Lost in a shadow

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With Julieta Venegas’ last album Aquí, listeners could play the CD, put its music in the background of their consciousness and let its minialistic beauty seep in slowly.

The same can’t be said for Venegas’ new album Bueninvento.

It’s not a bad album, per se. Indeed, Venegas has sought to broaden the aural scope of her music. Where Aquí consisted mostly of accordion and piano with spare accompanying instrumentation, Bueninvento is a major production by comparrison.

On “Hoy no quiero,” it’s guitars, not Venegas’ classically-trained piano, that drives the track. “Simepre en mi mente” bristles with quiet energy, but a huge bridge serves as a dramatic apex for the song.

In fact, a good portion of this album is spent delaying the inevitable big bang of a full band, giving many of the songs an incongruous feel to them. It takes more than a minute before a real back beat grounds “Instantánea,” a minute and half before the full band plays on “Voluntad,” and nearly two minutes for “Enero y Abril.”

Very artistic, on one hand, but it’s a clever technique that gets run into the ground on Bueninvento. It worked with fewer instruments on Aquí.

Venegas possess the kind of voice that can overpower anything, but here, she’s lost in the mix somehow. That, coupled with a set of mostly well-crafted, well-written but on the whole hook-less songs, qualifies this album for borderline sophomore slump.

There are a lot of reviews out there that trumpet Bueninvento as a really impressive work, and perhaps those reviews are a lot more trustworthy. None of them mention anything about Venegas’ first album.

Aquí, however, casts quite a shadow for a debut, and Bueninvento, while brave in its attempt to steer away from the aesthetic established by its predecessor, seems to get lost attempting to find its own sound.