7th May, 1994

A rising tide lifts all boats. The last time we heard from La Mafia, the Texan romántica group, they were still in an 80s hangover, with thin production and warbly synths that didn't even rise to the gloss of Los Bukis. But the game's been raised: Jon Secada and Gloria Estefan are making pop as burnished and high-definition as anyone anywhere, and there's less excuse for Latin Pop to languish in a ghetto of underproduction and out-of-date sounds just because its audience is poorer (on average) than the wider pop audience. It's the 90s — everyone's getting richer.

As a song, this isn't much: the central conceit, that he's singing to Life itself as if it were a woman (or to a woman as though she were Life itself; it's pleasantly ambiguous), is a standard of romantic poetry, and everyone from Shakespeare to Tumblr kids have had a run at it. Melodically, it's a little restrictive, plodding along in the same key without much variation, and Oscar De La Rosa, the vocalist, could either be commended for his restraint or (more likely) just called boring; the very brief moment towards the end when he goes off-script and starts singing with a bit of soul is what a lifetime of Anglophone pop listening was leading me to expect at every moment.

But it's the the production, classy without being stiff or standoffish, that makes the song for me. I love the sound of a piano — real piano, not synthesized approximations — and its appearance as the lead instrument here disposed me favorably towards the song anyway. Then the gorgeous Spanish guitar solo shows up, and I'm hooked. Even the backing strings are used tastefully, decorative rather than overwhelming, with a real sense of narrative flow which the song and the singer lack. If we must have ballads, I much prefer this style — intimate, tasteful, even restrained — to the emotionally extravagant bombast, whether orchestral or synthesized, which has so far been usual here.

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