26 years have passed since Shakira debuted with Magia. For the first decade she was celebrated as one of Latin America’s most distinctive and exciting musical prospects, but nobody expected the mainstream success she would achieve 16 years ago with the release of her debut English language release Laundry Service. With over 70 million record sales to her name, Shakira’s 11th studio album, El Dorado, is a proud return to her Colombian routes having explored her most generic pop sound on 2014’s eponymous release.
The move is a clever one. Shakira has shown time and again that she has the capability of delivering a pop standard, but her most impressive work has always showcased a heavy leaning towards the rather compelling Latin American beats and her beautifully accented vocal.
Having teased her eleventh studio album with the jaunty Carlos Vives duet La Bicicleta last summer, El Dorado is every bit as quirky, playful and addictive as the single that launched it. Predominantly sung in Spanish, the album does play with language fusion but should not be written off by any listeners perturbed by not understanding the lyrics, as Shakira’s flawless delivery and a visit to Google Translate will no doubt resolve any issues.
Having teamed up with Maluma for Chantaje, Shakira is likely to break one of her country mates as an international icon, for this is the album’s stand-out number and will have you stomping on the dancefloor frantically.
At the other end of the spectrum, the understated ballad Toneladas is as close to perfect as you can achieve. This is one that will get your heart fluttering. Meanwhile the distinctive Coconut Tree makes you ponder what an Empire of the Sun and Shakira collaboration might sound like. For those wanting a new She-Wolf, there is Me Enamoré, which will have you as hooked as you were to her 2009 anthem.
While there are a couple of miss moments, most notably Perro Fiel, which just feels a little paint by numbers, El Dorado is an album that shows exactly why Shakira is such a huge international name. This is a collection that takes you on a journey you want to take time and time again.