Latin Music Album: Natalie Cole “En Español” Review

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Although Natalie Cole can’t speak Spanish, her Latin music album “En Español” is quite a gem.

“En Español” has been a success in the Billboard charts climbing rapidly to the #1 Latin Top Album, #1 Latin Pop Album, and #2 in the Jazz Album charts.

The album, produced by Rudy Perez (who also became her Spanish language coach), includes 12 songs from various Latin American countries. The album concept was to build on Natalie’s father, Nat “King” Cole’s collection of songs he had recorded in Spanish.

Nat King’s “Cole Español” was released in 1958 and became a huge unexpected hit. Natalie took her 1st trip to Mexico with her family after the album release. It’s that memory that inspired “En Español”.

What I Liked About “En Español”

  • Singing Performance – this is where reverse cross-over artists fall. Natalie did a pretty good job on delivering these Latin song classics with good pronunciations and feeling. Like her father Nat King, Natalie does not speak Spanish. However, Rudy Perez did a great job getting the Grammy-winner Jazz singer to execute the songs beautifully.
  • Nat "King" Cole's "Cole Español" was an unexpected success that inspired Natalie's album.
    Nat “King” Cole’s “Cole Español” was an unexpected success that inspired Natalie’s album.

    Song Selection – The 12 songs included in “En Español” are a nice collection of Latin music classics from several countries in the Latin American songbook. Songs from Cuba, Argentina, Mexico, Dominican Republic, and Brazil are included. As a Puerto Rican, I would have loved to see “Cachita” or “Piel Canela” in the repertoire, but it is still a nice collection.

  • Great Musicality – the orchestration in this album is absolutely phenomenal. Perhaps this is why Rudy Perez is regarded as one of the best producers in Latin music. Also, the guests artists contribute greatly to the , album’s success. Andrea Bocelli, who earlier this year released Pasion, a fantastic album of mostly Latin music classics, does a great performance in “Bésame Mucho”. The other star guests included Juan Luis Guerra, Chris Botti, and Arthur Hanlon.
  • My Favorites – the duet with Nat “King” Cole was a must for this album. The duet with her late father in “Acercate Más” was really beautiful. As Natalie said in the album comments, technology has made it easier to make this duets than back when she did “Unforgettable”. She enjoyed doing it again, this time “En Español”. I also loved the duet in “Bachata Rosa” with Dominican Latin music star Juan Luis Guerra. They do fantastic rendition of Juan Luis’ classic song.

Suggestions for Natalie Cole on “En Español”

  • Natalie Cole's "En Español" has been a huge success, as her father's "Cole Español" was back in 1958.
    Natalie Cole’s “En Español” has been a huge success, as her father’s “Cole Español” was back in 1958.

    Beatles song – why include a Beatles song in what was a great tribute to her father’s songs in Spanish and to Latin American music? Besides the fact that “Yo La Amo” (And I Love Her) is totally out of context here, I didn’t even like Natalie’s version of it anyway.

  • “Oye Como Va” – I had mixed feelings about the Arthur Hanlon driven medley based on Tito Puente’s (not Santana’s) Latin music classic. I quite didn’t get into it the 1st time I heard it. The reason was that it takes you in a totally different mood than the rest of the album. However, the 2nd time I found that the change of pace and the festive mood was a good addition to “En Español”.

My Recommendation of “En Español”

I enjoyed listening to Natalie Cole’s “En Español”. I found it a nice selection of songs, with beautiful music, and well performed. The musicality and the fact that Natalie sings it, made the album climb almost to the top of Billboard’s Jazz Album list. Many Natalie fans were eager to listen to this album. “En Español” also climbed to the top of Billboard Latin music charts.

Natalie Cole’s performance is good enough to merit having this album in your collection. It’s enjoyable here her sing these classic Latin music songs in her elegant voice.

1 Comment
  1. Lillie Morell says

    #1 Latin Top Album wow, that’s just great!
    #1 Latin Pop Album Awesome Natalie!
    #2 in the Jazz Album charts Keep up the good work!

    You are very talented and I idolize you. Keep your feet on the floor while your career is soaring high.

    Lots of love,

    Lillie

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