The more Luis Miguel I hear, the more I appreciate the technical purity of his singing, the immaculate phrasing and, as he grows older, the sense of powerful emotions in reserve, which he shares with the mature Sinatra. In some ways it feels as if he's been building to this moment, the gorgeous young man who first appeared in these pages as a teen hunk singing a retrofitted 60s pop song growing into the suavely elegant man who rides a light-jazzy rhythm effortlessly and croons as sweetly as Bryan Ferry, as assuredly as Tony Bennett.
I'm told (by the usual source) that this was his biggest-selling album, the final transition into adulthood and traditional pop. That tradition is bolero, the eighteenth-century Spanish slow dance that was the first popular song form in Cuba and Mexico. I had to listen to a few more traditional bolero songs myself before I could hear the bolero rhythm under the funk-guitar flecks, but even if the instrumentation is as plastic and 1992 as possible — between the glossy keys, the rubbery guitar, and the tweeting soprano sax, it's like a crystallized memory of the first smooth jazz station I ever listened to — Miguel's precise, restrained performance rescues it from easy-listening purgatory and places it in the canon of liquid-smooth pop that all my references so far have conjured up.
While most latter-day reminiscence has focused on youth movements like alt-rock and electronic dance, at the time there was some reason to believe that traditional pop was a signal way forward as the nineties gathered steam: Tony Bennett was hip again, Harry Connick, Jr. was on the rise, and Natalie Cole had her biggest, if least defensible, hit duetting with her late father. While this isn't that "Unforgettable" (which is what "inolvidable" means), it's at least as easy to slip into its dreamy tug.