Rolando Villazón: ¡Mexico! Popular Mexican Songs

The Mexican tenor Rolando Villazón is venturing into 'popera', but not even someone of his stature can elevate some of this material beyond background music.

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Bring out the maracas - the Mexican tenor Rolando Villazón is venturing into "popera". This compilation of laid-back folk songs from the singer's native country is given some professional polish, thanks to Villazón's florid vocals, ably backed by the Bolívar soloists. Unless of the melancholy variety, Mexican folk songs have a tendency to sound cheesy. Unfortunately, these are no exception. Perhaps it's the frequency with which songs such as Besame Mucho are played, but there is little that even someone of Villazón's stature can add here. While some of the arrangements are pleasant enough, such as the timbale on Veracruz, and some pretty strings on Despedida, it never succeeds in elevating them beyond background music. The timing of its release, at least, is good, with two major anniversaries taking place this year - the centennial of the revolution and the bicentennial of the independence movement. Fans of Villazón's classical work are unlikely to be impressed by such lightweight fare as this, but newcomers might enjoy the jollity.

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