Shakira, SHE WOLF

It's always refreshing to discover pop music that doesn't sound like everything else on the radio. This atypical and rewarding feat is achieved on She Wolf, the terrific new album from Shakira.

She Wolf uses lots of synthesizers and electronics, but these are flavored with other influences: Latin, Indian, and even folk music. (I could see "Gypsy" being written by the Indigo Girls as easily as by Shakira.) And it's all held together by Shakira's voice, which can go from sensual to powerful to playful -- sometimes in the same song.

This time around, Shakira sings almost completely about love and lust. ("She Wolf" and "Gypsy" are more about self-discovery.) Songs topics include repeatedly falling for the wrong guy ("Did It Again"), playful exhibitionism ("Spy"), and pure sensual fantasy ("Good Stuff"). The lyrics are light and fluffy, and if She Wolf has one flaw it's the occasional clunker in the writing: "I'm so happy I should get sued," "I'm starting to feel just a little abused/like a coffee machine in an office." But there is also clever writing here, from the dark obsessed and vindictive ex-girlfriend in "Mon Amour" to bemoaning a lack of eligible men in "Men in This Town": "The good ones are gone or not able/ and Matt Damon's not meant for me."

She Wolf has nine songs in English, three of those songs performed in Spanish as well, two live songs, and two songs with rappers Lil Wayne and Kid Cuti. The version from Target (disclaimer: I work for Target. Disclaiming: It's good for what ails ya) has a bonus dvd with two live performances, an interview with Shakira, the video for "She Wolf" and a making-of feature for that video. She Wolf won't revolutionize all music or become immortal poetry. What it is, first and foremost, is fun. Shakira has made an album that's very enjoyable and easy to listen to repeatedly. Aooooooooo!

Overall grade: A-

Reviewed by James Lynch

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