Maria Jose – “Habla Ahora” (2016)

The last time I spoke about Maria Jose was when I reviewed the single “Las Que Se Ponen Bien La Falda.” Now the complete album is out and fans, along with critics, have been able to see the new work from everyone’s favorite Kabah. Back on to her own music, Maria Jose has left the KabahOV7 tour to focus on what she is good at…dance music.

The album, Habla Ahora, begins with the song that has become an anthem for young girls everywhere. “Las Que Se Ponen Bien La Falda” features Ivy Queen and speaks about how men objectify women and that women need that empowerment to stand up for themselves. This could have been the theme song for this year’s Women’s March. It’s a powerful song, as well as a great song to turn up and sing along with while sitting in traffic.

“Lo Que Te Mereces,” the second track from the album is a traditional Maria Jose club track that shows that she has not lost DIVA status. Then we get to “Olvídame Y Pega La Vuelta,” a duet with Jay De La Cueva of Moderatto fame. Oddly, Maria Jose’s voice is deeper than Jay’s and the harmony between them lacks a cohesive duet. The song is a cover from the pop duo, Pimpinela. Maria Jose wasn’t the only person to recently cover this song. Jennifer Lopez and Marc Anthony released their version of the song around the same time as this album was released. The JLo/Anthony version is a salsa influence track. Sadly that version outranks the Maria Jose/Jay version in a powerful duet.

The next two tracks from the album, “Cobarde” and the title track, “Habla Ahora” slow down the album and allow Maria Jose to demonstrate her vocal cords with two ballads that tug at your sentimental strings. Both songs are beautifully sung with addicting choruses. With “Quiero Que Te Quedes” keeps the pace with a slower pop track with an infusion of the popular reggaeton beats that will probably give her another radio hit. Continuing along with the album, Maria Jose pumps out another ballad with “Nada Fue Verdad.”

Up next, is a song that my wife and I disagree on how great it is… Maria Jose covers 80’s dance hit “Duri Duri” that was made popular by the pop-trio, Click. The song was like a gay anthem song in the 80’s Mexico and if you didn’t have that 12″ dance mix to this song back then, you were missing some of the best music from the time. Click was so ahead of their time, but that is another review for later. Now, my wife HATES, literally hates the original song that she will not give Maria Jose’s version a chance. When I saw this song on the tracklist, I squealed like a rabid fangirl. Seriously, Maria Jose gives the song a place in today’s club music. I bow down to you as the goddess of covers.

“Ella Me Gusta Para Ti,” keeps the beat up with a classic pop single that tells the world that pop is not dead. You don’t know urban beats or gimmicks to have a great pop track. This song is slowing becoming one of my favorite tracks the more I listen to the music. “No Soy” brings the mood back down with a ballad with strong bass, while it doesn’t have much power in the vocals, but it holds you enough to move along with the album listen.

Now if I would not have seen that there is a second version of “Las Que Se Ponen Bien La Falda” at the end of the album, I would have turned off the album at the song. “Hombre Malvado” is a country-infused track that makes me want to put on boots and a cowboy hat. Sorry, not happening… You had me at “Duri Duri.” I don’t have a good thing to say about that song, I’m sorry. Now, let’s fast forward to the final track. The pop version of “Las Que Se Ponen Bien La Falda” features less urban beats and less of Ivy Queen too. While it is nice to end with what we started with, I might have liked a dance track or remix of the original versus a toned-down pop version.

Maria Jose is supposed to be the queen of dance and club music of Mexico and while this album is overall very good, it lacks what we are so used to with her albums. Now, this does not mean that Maria Jose has lost her status of “top female artist” in my book, but I think this might need more listens in order for me to appreciate where she went with the album as a whole.

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