REVIEW BY: Michael R. Smith
ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 11/01/2009
This is probably as mainstream as it will ever get for poor heartthrob Enrique Iglesias. As his second English-speaking album, Escape seemed quite the departure from his debut. It has such a great vibe, high production values, and much-improved vocal performances from the young Latin singer. The title suggests finally escaping from his famous father Julio’s shadow and becoming a true artist in his own right (Ricky Martin, be damned).
From the radio-friendly title track, to the moving “Hero,” Iglesias really gives us his all on this sophomore effort, which is anything but sophomoric. Yes, his voice isn’t exactly cleared of the tic that tends to mar too many of his songs, but the upbeat, celebratory feel of the material on Escape more than makes up for it. If anything, it is precisely that vocal tic that distinguishes him from other Latin artists. And we thought it was the mole that set him apart (not so fast…he had the damn thing removed after this record hit the shelves).
This is one defiant guy. No way was anybody going to hold him back from pursuing his dream. He wasn’t going to let his nationality limit his potential, nor was he going to be accused of getting special treatment because of his last name. Enrique was determined to compete with the best of them and confound critics’ expectations. He certainly confounded mine. I’ve never been a fan of Latin music, especially if it was designated as such. But this album has that extra something special that makes you almost forget that it comes from a Latin artist.
There are a few lingering traces of Enrique’s culture to be found on the mariachi-style “Love 4 Fun” and the melodramatic “Love To See You Cry,” but there is also a surprising piano ballad in “Maybe” and a tune to get everyone up and bouncing for “One Night Stand.” Stylistically, Iglesias has all the bases covered, making for a truly dynamic listen from start to finish. If he had just avoided the shrieking on “Don’t Turn Off The Lights” and the unnecessary raunchiness on “She Be The One,” this album would have earned a perfect grade.
Sadly, Enrique would run out of ideas and would soon discover just how limited his range really was. His follow-up release Seven was D.O.A. upon its release, and his latest, Insomniac, also sank without a trace. I would recommend Seven for fans of this album, particularly for the track “Be Yourself,” where he takes a much-needed swipe at his unsupportive parents. How that song didn’t become a hit dance single, I’ll never know. It could actually be a great gay anthem – unintended, of course. Honestly, Enrique needn’t have fought so hard to be appreciated. With an album as memorable as Escape, the music speaks for itself. And the fact that he produced it himself shows that his future is just as promising on the other side of the studio glass.