Juanes’ new album took two years to complete for many reasons. Countless No. 1s (his 2004 song “La Camisa Negra” continues to be a Spanish pop radio hit) and some 20 Latin Grammys later, the Colombian singer-songwriter has been a part of the upper echelons of Latin music for several years. The stillness of the pandemic, however, served as a reset button that brought the student out in Juanes, and thus his 11th full-length effort was created with one question in mind: “What if this was my last album? How would I face it?”
For that reason, an element of catharsis is woven into the songs and stories that make up “Vida Cotidiana” (translates to “Everday Life”), which arrives today via Universal Music Latino.
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“For me, this is my best album, my best composition — in all aspects,” Juanes tells Variety. “It’s not an album that I made with the thought that it had to be the most commercial by any means, but rather it is an album that I feel really reflects what’s in my soul and it’s my sound.”
Known as an early ambassador of the Spanish rock music that seemingly airwaves into and through the late 2000s, Juanes returns to his roots in “Vida.” Immersive electric guitars cascade into swooning chorus lines about his personal struggles in marriage, while other tracks exorcise man-against-the-world frustrations about the sociopolitical battles that plague his home country.
Album opener “Mayo” boasts airy, orchestral harmonies that support commentary on Colombia’s mass protests and murders over social inequality. “I have always written songs that are a reflection of my feelings and personal experiences,” he says, offering the example of his 2010 album “P.A.R.C.E” as a juxtaposed yet parallel comparison to “Vida” — with both sets dissecting the monotony, joys and perils of life.
“When I released ‘P.A.R.C.E,’ I was at my personal worst moment, honestly. And I think that it could be reflected a bit in what the result of the album is, in the recording and in the performance,” he says of the record’s unsuspectingly dark and layered themes that hide behind bouncy basslines.
“It was not a very light moment for me, but right now, I feel the opposite. It is a moment of great light and I feel very good. On this album, I’ve been much more vulnerable, I’ve opened up to tell my stories and that brings me a lot of pride,” he says. “The pandemic helped me to connect with the reality of my home, with my wife and with my children. There were situations of disagreements and discussions and learning — not just at home, but in my country… And fortunately, the music was there to serve as a cure.”
Produced by Juanes and Sebastian Krys, who has also helmed hits for acts like Shakira and Carlos Vives, “Vida” sees the pop rocker experimenting with different computerized beat patterns — a direct result of Zoom-composed demos — on tracks like “Amores Prohibidos,” while others see him returning to essential rock elements, from percussion to his dexterous use of layered electric and acoustic guitar strings.
Juanes adds, “[‘Vida’] definitely takes me back — I visualize it almost as if it had been a path of maturing towards childhood and returning again to the place that motivated me to make music in the first place. I think that this album, in that aspect, is much more played by me and my friends in the band, recorded here in this place where we are today, in my house. It feels really authentic, I’m so proud of it.”
Friday also sees the music video release of the love song “Cecilia,” the middle name of Juanes’ wife Karen Martinez. “Cecilia” features Latin music star Juan Luis Guerra, who has been a long-time collaborator of Juanes, and most famously produced his “MTV Unplugged” taping.
“I have always admired, loved, adored Juan Luis. I think he is one of the great musicians if not the greatest of all — I mean, his legacy, his music is an incredible thing,” Juanes said. “Having him work on ‘Unplugged’ was a unique and wonderful experience, it brought us closer together as artists. He took my songs to an absolutely beautiful and epic dimension. And now, after so many years, meeting again in this song is a very important milestone… also because it’s a song that I composed for my wife, who also loves Juan Luis. Literally, every day Cecilia listens to Juan Luis Guerra. Every. Day. Sometimes, I even get jealous because it’s like… Every day she exaggeratedly listens to Juan Luis!”
“Vida Cotidiana” Tracklist
Canción Desaparecida (feat. Mabiland)
Ojalá (feat. Juan Luis Guerra)
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