Album review: Shakira – El Dorado

Following the release of the self-titled Shakira three years ago, the Columbian singer and songwriter treats fans to her 11th studio album El Dorado…

The release of 2016’s single “La Bicicleta” along with the Spanish title of this project suggest a lot of Columbian influence, with the vast majority of the track listing also written in her native tongue. In contrast to some of her earlier material, she opts for prominently Spanish lyrics throughout the album this time around as well. The Major Lazer-inspired opener “Me Enamore” ticks all the boxes. Unbelievably catchy lyrics about mojito’s sung effortlessly over a subtle, yet effective beat. Influences from American pop music are present without appearing tacky, whilst the African percussion and tasteful vocal cuts bring everything to life.

Not everything will get the party started quite so well, however. If it is time for everybody to call a taxi then the second track “Nada” must have begun. It is dangerously close to sounding like a Spanish Celine Dion tribute act, featuring production full of powerful 80’s piano and drums, as well as some emotional heavy breathing. “Chantaje” – featuring Maluma – pops back out of the speakers with an energetic intro that somebody should probably show to J Hus’ lawyers, but when the sultry drop arrives, all is forgiven. The garage-influenced high pitched vocal edits add a phenomenally effective hook, with everything tightly held together by cold-as-ice performances from both Shakira and Maluma. This is everything people love about Shakira, and will no doubt be an instant classic. 

El Dorado is the eleventh studio album by Colombian singer Shakira

Many of the tracks that follow are less black and white however, with many amalgamating traditional pop and club elements. While tracks like “Comme Moi” (featuring Black M) have some incredible chemistry, they are often let down somewhat by a friendly English chorus that sticks out like a sore thumb. There is even an English version of the song at the end of the album, a smart move to include as many listeners as possible. Even her venture into more modern territories on “Trap” works better than it should. Shakira delivers delicate cadences whilst Maluma’s voice again harmonises beautifully. They even manage to include a guitar solo without losing their cool. This one will definitely be a grower and is a welcome change in pace at the halfway point.

There are plenty of safer tracks to enjoy at home as well. “Amarillo” is pretty plain in comparison to the Amazonian vibes showcased elsewhere on the album though. “Coconut Tree” is another simple soft-pop lullaby, and while they may not be her most memorable, they are still a decent listen. “La Bicicleta” features Carlos Vives and is the most traditional offering, with live instrumentation including an accordion. Another collaboration in the form of “Deja vu” will most likely please her South American fan base as well, teaming up with Prince Royce to combine reggae and R&B into pristine pop. 

With this release marking Shakira’s 15th year in the industry, this is undoubtedly some of her best material to date. Collaboration and genre-fusion has been key to this projects success. It manages to keep up with current musical fashion, while staying true to her recognisable style. The up-tempo tracks will be on repeat this summer at student house party’s and family BBQ’s alike, something that few artists manage to achieve. Come and shake a leg to it in one of our demo rooms today at your local Richer Sounds.