Happier times

Before the release of Un día normal, Juanes told Billboard magazine his outlook on life is a lot more positive.

“What I live, I give back in the songs,” he told the magazine. “And my vision of life has changed. And life is beautiful, and one must take advantage of it.”

It certainly shows.

Un día normal, the follow-up to the Colombian artist’s Grammy-awarding debut Fijate bien, sounds much sunnier.

Juanes still combines Carribean and Latin American rhythms with his straight-forward rock ‘n’ roll songwriting, but the dark edge that subtly underscored much of the singer’s debut has definitely been scaled back.

Sure, Juanes makes room for some haunting tunes, such as the string-laced “Dia Lejano” or the introspective “La Historia de Juan”, a song reportedly about a homeless child.

(Disclosure: I don’t speak Spanish, so don’t look for any lyrical explication here.)

But much of Un día normal is bright, even joyous. If nothing else, it’s a lot more radio-friendly.

The pounding rhythm of the album’s opener, “A Dios le Pido”, drives the song as much as the Carribean-influenced guitar work. “Luna” positively shines with its brilliant intro and bouncy reggae-rhythm.

“Es Por Ti” is definitely a bittersweet, uptempo ballad, but it’s not as dark as “Nada” from Fijate bien.

Newcomers may latch onto the wonderfully performed duet between Juanes and Nelly Furtado on “Fotografia”, but it’s the following track, “Desde Que Despierto”, which really steals the show.

A no-nonsense rocker, “Desde Que Despierto” contains Juanes’ most infectous chorus on the album.

Juanes’ happier outlook on life may jar listeners who appreciate the righteous angst that imbued his previous album. But ultimately, Juanes’ knack for writing a hook, and his seamless combination of rock ‘n’ roll and Latin rhythms, wins in the end.

Un día normal avoids the sophomore slump. Not bad for a guy who won three Grammys with his debut.