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Album Review

Paulina Rubio's decision to return to an all-Spanish format for Pau-Latina might acknowledge the 2002 English crossover attempt Border Girl as a slight misstep if her latest didn't drop its bits and pieces of Mexican instrumentation and language into such an ambitious and entertaining stew. As its colorfully kinetic, Björk-like cover art suggests, Pau-Latina is all over the place, and usually at a hundred miles an hour. "Baila Que Baila" mashes ringing mariachi guitars into the blips and bytes of an Ashanti-style contempo R&B number; there's even a hip-hop break to suggest the contribution of a Ja Rule or Jay-Z. "Quiero Cambiarme" and "Ojalá" take traditional horn blasts and robust supporting harmonies into a wild and disorienting future of neon-light electronica, while the dancefloor-ready "Algo Tienes"' bashing percussion and rock guitar would fit nicely on Shakira's Laundry Service. (The track also appears in an instrumental remix format.) Throughout Pau-Latina, there's an alluring scratchiness to Rubio's voice. Is she perpetually on the verge of raucous, contagious laughter? It's a definite that "Alma en Libertad" hijacks the lead riff from John Mellencamp's "Small Town," but it's an equally robust feel-good anthem that's impossible to shake from the brain. Neither the melodies nor the adventurism stops there. The lusty "Dame Otro Tequila" would make a nun thirsty, while the ballad "Mía" is a lush departure from the album's constant kicky beats. Pau-Latina is sure to please fans of 2000's Paulina. But the feisty, stylistic restlessness at its heart does more for Rubio's crossover potential than the pleasing though ultimately same-y beats of Border Girl ever could.


Born: June 17, 1971 in Mexico City, Mexico

Genre: Pop in Spanish

Years Active: '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

Unlike many kids who grow up dreaming of stardom, singer Paulina Rubio didn't have to wait for adulthood to get her first taste of fame. By the time she was ten, Rubio, the daughter of Mexican film star Susana Dosamantes, was part of the children's group Timbiriche. A decade later her solo debut, La Chica Dorada (1992), was released by EMI, generating the breakthrough hit "Mío." Three more EMI albums followed -- 24 Kilates (1993), Tiempo Es Oro (1995), and Planeta Paulina (1996) -- none nearly as...
Full bio
Pau-Latina, Paulina Rubio
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