Looking For Words

Seven-legged cats and humble breasts? Someone needs a new songwriter.

She’s got the music! She’s got the body! But boy, does she need a good dictionary...

I spent a very amused afternoon reading the jacket of this album for the sheer joy of lyrics unlike any I’d heard before. But taking it from the top, Shakira, originally an award winning Spanish songstress, has the unique genius of stretching a soft strain into a horse-powered yodel, then dipping into a sedate whisper. Her first English album, "Laundry Service", has been Produced by Emelio Estefan Jr. the husband of singer Gloria Estefan.

Thirteen tracks, simultaneously berating and then eulogizing the mechanics of love, derive design mainly from folk music made contemporary with a smattering of rock. The heady meteoric numbers like "Rules", "Whenever Wherever", "Ready For The Good Times" and "Fool" have been interspersed with decelerated tunes like "Underneath Your Clothes", "The One" and "Poem To A Horse". Of the four Spanish tracks, "Te Dejo Madrid" is a speedy pop number, while "Que Me Quedes Tu" spins the other way round. "Suerte" is her native take on "Whenever Wherever", while "Te Aviso, Te Anuncio" translates the English "Objection", which is very tango. Of the lot, "Eyes Like Yours" is perhaps the only visceral folk rock piece, complete with flutes and mandolin.

To give you a whiff of the content:

"Till the time you start changing the rules, I’ll keep chasing the soles of your shoes" - Fool

"Lucky that my breasts are small and humble, so you don’t mistake them for mountains" - Whenever Wherever

"I used to read survival guides when my world was full of seven-legged cats, but here I am with eight more lives" - Ready For The Good Times

Now I’m not sure if this is a literal translation of her Spanish-bred ideas, or if she’s on a higher plane of poetry...but on the surface, it seems like the lady has been thumbing a worn dictionary in an attempt at easy rhyme. If you’re in for the music, Shakira makes for good listening...only don’t question the logic of the lyrics.

This article was first published on 02 May 2002.