Hippo Manchester
December 22, 2005

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CD Reviews: Shakira, Oral Fixation Vol. 2

Epic, 2005

B+

Put aside the extremely erotic album cover of Oral Fixation, where a nude Shakira, protected only by a few very lucky, fig leaves, stares mischievously at you, apple in hand.

OK, that’s hard to do.

But when you put it aside, and listen to the disc inside, what you have is another unique English-sung gem from the Colombian beauty who is in the position of saving girl-pop music from the clutches of singing mannequins such as Jessica Simpson and Britney Spears.

For starters, Shakira writes her own music (in Spanish and English) and actually plays guitar on her albums and on stage from time to time, which some might say is a shame, seeing as the guitar:

(a) hinders her ability to dance in that oh-so-sexy Latina style

and

(b) covers that oh-so-attractive mid-riff.

Oral Fixation, Vol. 2 is a separation from the more upbeat, Latin flavor of Laundry Service. There are a few dance-friendly tunes, yet that doesn’t seem to be Shakira’s intention with Oral Fixation. Here, she shows her insight, and proves, once again, that she actually puts thought into the music she performs.

With songs like “Something,” Shakira tries to shy away from the Latina label that’s won her several awards (including a Grammy), and prove she’s a force to be reckon with, regardless of the country or the language.

What Shakira achieves in this album is a happy medium between pop flavor and artistic integrity. For example, Santana offers his Latin-flavored guitar licks on the Joss Stone-like rock ballad “Illegal,” while it seems likely that the last track, “Timor,” will become a huge hit in dance clubs across the nation.

“Hey You” has major ska influences, and could have been sung by Gwen Stefani 10 years ago.

Overall, the Latin style takes a back seat on Oral Fixation. Rather, a unique American-style of pop, with folk snippets, steers this ship, much to the dismay of many faithful Latinos out there, I’m sure.

Throughout the album, there are times when Shakira’s accent is prevalent, and that adds to the sexiness of it all. Her passionate voice is not hard to fall in love with; it has the fullness of her tone and an occasional falsetto similar to that of Mary O’Riordan of The Cranberries.

Song that best represents the album: “Illegal,” which matches Shakira’s serious side (“You don’t even know the meaning of the words I’m sorry”) with the musical mastery of Carlos Santana.

— Richie Victorino