Prince Royce: Five

July 12, 2017

Perfect Fifth

Listening Post 107. Most of Prince Royce’s career as a singer and songwriter has been dedicated to bachata, but with an open window letting in subtle flavors from outside. The Bronx-born son of Dominican parents, Royce has released albums in Spanish and English, switching back and forth with a dexterity undoubtedly fueled by the mental proximity of parallel vocabularies. On his fifth studio album, a collection of solo and duet love songs (mostly in Spanish), his chemistry has never been better. Start with Déjà Vu, a jaw-dropping duet with Shakira—voices combining in a combustible mix of bitter experience, seduction and surrender—that brings R&B to bachata: “Who can speak of love and defend it/Please raise your hand,” they sing, throbbing with every string pluck and bongo tap, “If anyone is going to talk about love/I can assure you it won’t be me” (video 1; the track is also on Shakira’s album El Dorado). In the solo La Carretera (The Road), Royce’s silky tenor carries the sting of breakup: “Oncoming headlights shine like stars in a sky of pain/Where are you?/Do you still think about me?” (video 2). Also revolving around an ex, Moneda (Unlucky Coin) is a norteño/bachata duet with the Mexican-American artist Gerardo Ortiz: “Without you I’m worth nothing/Like a bad coin thrown into a fountain” (video 3). There’s much more (the album’s deluxe edition has 18 tracks), including two classic bachatas that pull the heartstrings in opposite directions—the innocent Culpa al Corazón (Blame the Heart) and the dulcet cardio-heist Asalto (Stick-Up)—plus the reggaeton-tinged duet Ganas Locas (Mad Desire) with the Puerto Rican singer Farruko. At 28, Royce already has more than 140 music awards and 300 nominations, and apparently his only gear is Up. (Sony Music Entertainment)










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