El Regalo (Review)
It has been well established for years that Tatiana can sing and dance. Nor has it been any secret that she just keeps getting more beautiful and attractive. But such has been the dazzling nature of her stage presence, persona, and appearance that the fact that she is also a talented musician has been often overlooked; it is difficult for us mere mortals to conceive that someone who looks and sounds that good could also be musically accomplished (we have become far too accustomed to pretty faces and bodies unaccompanied by any talent at all!). The release of El Regalo should help correct this gross oversight as Tatiana not only sings and chooses the songs as usual, but also assumes the chief responsibility for overseeing the arrangements, production, and sound.
As even the most casual listen to the CD makes clear, she more than rises to the occasion presenting a collection of performances that are at once familiar and new. The production is not dramatically different from past efforts, or as lavish as her recent Disney CDs, but it is noticeably much "softer" in sound (while certainly not in terms of volume or in the strength of the beat!). This is especially apparent in the recording of the vocals. Her vocal tones seem "rounder" and somehow warmer, and she has decided to include far more elaborate harmonies and counterpoints. Also new is the frequent use of children's voices (reportedly provided by a soccer team coached by her brother Juan Ramon Palacios), for call-and-response sections and unison singing during choruses.
The song selection is even more revealing of Tatiana's sure touch and creativity. Some tracks could fit comfortably in previous albums: "Baila Con El Hula-Hoop," and "El Twist De Me Colegio" reflect her love for early rock n'roll and could easily have been included on Acapulco Rock (2000); "Ganador," "El Baile De La Ranita" each might have been cuts on Vamos A Jugar (2000), "La Reunion De Los Juguette" sounds similar to the tunes on Sigue La Magia (1997) and Superfantástico (1998), while "Ding Dong Dang" is consistent with her work on Navidad Con Tatiana (1996). All of which is to say that these songs, like those albums, are highly appealing. Never one to just repeat a formula, however, Tatiana in the remainder of the CD introduces some significant innovations.
This becomes apparent from the beginning when the CD opens with the first version of "Los Marcianos Llegaron Ya" (there are two variations of this song, one simpler and shorter with a different bridges). Musically it is a juxtaposition of Mexicana and Rap music; it features an engaging accordion, some unexpected minor key changes, and "Martian" sound effects. Thematically it introduces the UFO concept that reappears sporadically throughout the CD. One version has found regular play on adult radio in Mexico, and it is easy to see why, both versions feature engaging vocals and are cool songs that are unlike anything else she has recorded. "Alibombo," on the other hand, is more clearly directed towards children, and is in some ways simply another standard nonsense round of a type at which she excels ("Amo A To" on Brinca II for example). What makes it uniquely appealing, however, is the multi-layered backup singing on the choruses (all by Tatiana) that are just lovely and echo the ambience of a Broadway-style show tune. In "Do Re Mi," she actually does a show tune, and it is brilliant. It is so good that it suggests that this sound and type of song might just be a fertile source of inspiration for future projects.
It would not be Tatiana if there were not dance numbers, and she does not disappoint. "El Osito Lindo" has a James-Brown-meets-Dixieland-Scat-Jazz "feel" that grows on the listener. Even more elaborately arranged and produced is the medley that closes the CD, "Tradidance II". Presumably "II" because it is not unlike the "Potpourri Tradi-dance" on Brinca II in its conception -- a medley of immediately "catchy" snatches of melodies and lyrics held together by a steady dance beat. This second attempt is more successful because the songs are cuter, and because, again, the sound, while pulsating, is gentler and more attractive.
"Sonrie," on the other hand, stands out in sharp contrast to everything else. It begins almost like a "demo" track, with just an electric piano and her voice. As it progresses it builds until it climaxes with a unison chorus of a large group of obviously nonprofessional singers (supposedly most of her family and almost anyone else that was around). Tatiana's decision not to make this track slick and produced but to "keep it real" makes it clear that its message of love and togetherness is truly her own. It also reminds us that it is Tatiana's heart, and her ability to infuse it into her music, which are the elements that have caused her to be so special to so many.
Making her accomplishment on El Regalo all that much more remarkable, it should be also noted, is that it was achieved in the face of the greatest series of obstacles to her career since the 1994-95 period when she made the difficult transition from pop princess to La Reina (see Things Happen When They Should). First there was a career-slowing pregnancy, and then in a matter of months her recording contract lapsed, her television program went into reruns, and her business affairs fell into disarray as her former husband/manager began acting like a creature from hell. With the strong sales of this CD, her renewed television stardom in her roles in the miniseries, Amy, and the almost universal support of the public, there can be no doubt that Tatiana has returned and become, if anything, an even more powerful presence in the entertainment industry.
I have had El Regalo on my car's player almost constantly for the last three months, something that I have never done with any other CD. It is ideal for driving in traffic because it soothes and entertains, and does not seem to become repetitive and tiresome. It is a great set of performances by a great entertainer and musician. It is one of Tatiana's best, and it is difficult to imagine anyone, child or adult, who would not find it a small sweet oasis amidst the dry cares of life
© 2004 by Richard A. Morton
This page was first created 21 Mar 2004, and last modified 22 Mar 2004.