REVIEW BY: Mark Millan
ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 01/20/2010
Although Gloria Estefan had released two Spanish-language albums prior to this one, it was Mi Tierra that would really set the Latin world on fire. Most of the beats and melodies are Cuban-influenced and Gloria’s singing is exceptional; her voice really suits the material here and her passion when singing of her heritage is clearly evident, whether you understand the language or not.
Estefan has said that this record was the brainchild of her husband and producer Emilio, but it’s clear from listening to this exquisite album that it was a labor of love for both of them. The Estefans gathered together some of the genre’s finest components to help create an authentic and truly inspiring album that included work from percussionists Sheila E. and Tito Puente.
The record is awash with punchy horns and some awesome harmonies from the background singers that contribute to the overall vibe of the record and help keep it firmly a Latin album without drifting into crossover territory. On top of all this, The London Symphony Orchestra was heralded in to add strings to some of these songs (mainly the ballads): “Mi Buen Amor” and “Hablas De Mi” are two notable examples.
Other highlights include the intoxicating title track and the infectious “Si Senor!” Those two became big global hits, as did “Montuno” and “Ayer.” If I had to choose a favorite from this outstanding album, it would be the closer “Tradicion,” which is exactly that: a traditional acoustic-style song that Estefan revels in; she would use this formula as a template for her stunning 1996 album Destiny.
The great thing about this release (as with 2007’s 90 Milas) was that Gloria stuck close to her Cuban roots and made a stripped-back, authentic album. Her other Latin efforts, Abriendo Puertas and Alma Caribena, are impressive, but I feel with those that she tried to cover too much ground and embellished the material with too many influences.
Mi Tierra (a surprise smash-hit) would go on to become one of Estefan’s biggest selling albums, spawning hit singles in every corner of the globe. The title track was even a Top 40 hit here Down Under. It also earned Estefan her very first Grammy Award for the Best Tropical Latin Album. It just nudges out 90 Milas as her best Latin offering.