Reviewed by Raoul Hernandez, Fri., Aug. 29, 2008
Julieta VenegasMTV Unplugged (Norte)
Not only did Tijuana mama Julieta Venegas follow up her commercial nuptials with a Tequila-soaked luna de miel (honeymoon) – 2003's Sí and 2006's Limón y Sal respectively – but last year's victory lap on MTV Unplugged shed any and all remaining inhibitions. Venegas' big-band accompaniment for the Mexican sister channel lusters her treasure-chest melodies and goodwill romanticism with live snap. Whether squeezing her cherry-red accordion, caressing a piano, or bopping with Spanish hip-hop siren Mala Rodríguez on Limón y Sal's possessive "Eres Para Mí," the lady of the house pleases all. Labeling her the female Manu Chao slights Ely Guerra, so think of the 37-year-old singer-songwriter/arranger as Latin pop's True Blue-era Madonna; her vulnerability in song remains as openhearted as it is experienced, sullied by neither naivete nor cynicism. Take Venegas at face value, then, whether in duet with Brazilian vocal statuesque Marisa Monte ("Ilusion") or accompanied by Gustavo Santaolalla, Rock en Español's Rick Rubin, and his banjo on "Algún Día." All four Venegas LPs are represented here, including set staple "Sería Feliz" from 2000 U.S. breakthrough Bueninvento, as well as "Esta Vez" and "De Mis Pasos" from 1998 debut Aquí, the latter featuring the New Wave melodrama of guest goth Juan Son. On DVD, it's purple rain. On CD, Grammy fodder.