It took earning seven Grammy nominations and a slot on the Watcha Tour for the rest of the world to heed the title of Juan Esteban Aritzibal’s debut album.
Fijate bien. “Pay close attention.”
If you speak Spanish, you just might get a more meaningful experience from listening to Juanes’ appealing mix of Latin music and rock. Reportedly, the singer’s lyrics deal quite a bit with Colombia’s internal strife and sounds literate in doing so.
I don’t speak Spanish, so I couldn’t get anything out of the lyrics, no matter how closely I pay attention.
But it doesn’t take much brain power, let alone more than two listens, to realize Juanes is one helluva songwriter. Ah, the wonder of music — good tunes are understandable anywhere.
And Fijate bien has more than its fair share of incredible songs.
Unlike other rock en Español artists, many of whom align themselves with punk and rap, Juanes is a mainstream rocker. Nek may sound and look a bit like Sting, but Juanes has Sting’s ability to nail a hook.
Producer Gustavo Santaoalla, a guy whose work with the likes of Molotov and Café Tacuba makes him walk on water, embellishes Juanes’ music with some nice touches.
Strings and a quiet electric guitar infuse “Vulnerable” with a cautious optimism. Vallenato-style accordions drive the title track and “Podemos hacernos daño”, while salsa rhythms provide the foundation for “Para ser eterno” and “Sonador”.
But at its core, Fijate bien is a songwriter’s showcase. Juanes probably didn’t need to put a single Latin influence in his music to get his point across. Nor to sound any less good.
Pay close attention? Nah. Juanes makes it easy to just sit and listen.