Columbia Records, 2000
REVIEW BY: Alfredo Narvaez
ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 01/03/2001
It was over a year ago that a certain Enrique Martin Morales (as it's listed on AllMusic.com) stepped onto the Grammy stage and into pop culture. A well-known artist in his native Spanish market, Martin had achieved tremendous success worldwide with hits like "Maria" and "La Copa De Vida (The Cup Of Life)." It was his rendition of this song that blasted him into American consciousness. Within a month, he had his first mega-hit, "Livin' La Vida Loca," on the Billboard charts and soon his album appeared and went platinum in a hurry. He then found himself on a sold-out American tour, stopping allow the way to pick up awards from all over the world.
So how do you follow all that?
It appears that Martin found his answer to be that he could not. Therefore, rather than trumpet his return and his follow-up to the 1999 album, Sound Loaded has crept on everyone. Sure, there was the first single, "She Bangs," out on MTV, VH-1, Much Music, The Box, etc., etc. But, without the anticipation that followed last year's Grammys, this album has had a more subtle entry into the charts. Perhaps that is good, as it strips away the fair-weather fans and gives Martin a more honest appraisal of his following in the U.S.
Of course, all of this matters little when considering the overall quality of Sound Loaded. Re-teaming with the same writers and producers of his self-titled album, it may have been Martin's idea to give his new fans more of what they wanted. Roby Rosa, Desmond Child, Jon Secada, Emilio Estefan, Jr. and others ensure that their star centerpiece has more enough grooves, beats and rhythms with which to shake his bon-bon.
The album kicks off with the aforementioned single, "She Bangs." Let me state right up-front that it is very catchy. It's very danceable and the chorus will stick in your head. It's, simply put, the best song in the album. Other danceable tracks include the very-good "Amor," which contains a lot of that Spanish flavor, the Middle-Eastern tinged "One Night Man" and the poppy "Are You In It For Love." All range in the good scale and should provide Martin with more live ammo for his shows.
Then, there's the ballad side of Martin. The best one is "Nobody Wants To Be Lonely," a softer, sadder turn than the rest of his songs. Others include "Come To Me," the Child/Diane Warren-penned "The Touch" and "If You Saw Her." They tend to be more standard-fare and average and along par for the course for Martin. It's the types of songs that my cousin swoons over when she hears the album. (And, I'm guessing, it has the same effect with many of Ricky's female following).
Alas, the biggest problem with this album is its straight and narrow attitude. This is nothing that we have heard from Martin before. Unlike the previous leaps he has made - from soft Spanish crooner and balladeer to butt-shaking maestro de fiesta to international sensation - Sound Loaded will not surprise or shock anyone. "Saint Tropez" swings, but doesn't make you stand and dance. "Come To Me" is a standard ballad - is it just me or is he constantly calling for women to come to him? "Loaded" and "Jezebel" are more danceable songs that are not bad. They just lack that little something that makes good pop songs great.
Sound Loaded is not bad. On the contrary, it's probably a slightly better album than Ricky Martin. However, it seems that with this album, Martin is aiming to see who wants to keep shaking their bon-bons to him. I do see some signs of growth in his music. Perhaps they'll be apparent in the next album.