Sin Miedo - 8/10
I find it really difficult to review music in languages I don't understand. I'm completely in awe of bloggers like Poster Girl and Robpop, who can happily wax lyrical about Ethiopian folk albums and Finnish death metal. Lyrics are very important to me but I guess being oblivious to the finer details is kind of freeing and you really don't need to understand a word of Spanish to guess that "Sin Miedo" ("Without Fear") is an uplifting declaration of independence. One of two tracks imported from Sweden, this has the slightest whiff of Scandipop blandess. Happily, the song is saved by an iconic chorus and Soraya's impressive pipes. "Sin Miedo" is far from the best song on the album and would not have been my choice as the first single but at least the video clip is a triumph. A battered looking Soraya wanders through a graveyard before changing into stilettos and conveniently stumbling across a dance party. That kind of shit happens to me ALL THE TIME!
Para Ti - 10/10
After a promising beginning, the album really steps up a gear with the dazzling "Para Ti" ("For You"). Produced by Spain's DJ Sammy (who scored top 10 hits of his own in Australia with dance re-makes of "Heaven" and "Boys Of Summer") and written by the team behind Marta Sanchez's brilliant "Superstar", this track introduces Soraya to the dancefloor. I love the production on this. It's edgy and contemporary, while still sounding sweet and melodic. The opening synths are particularly wicked. DJ Sammy should be legally forced to collaborate with all Spanish divas!
No Siento - 10/10
"No Siento" is another stellar DJ Sammy production despite the fact that it
Duele - 9/10
The beats come thick and heavy on this mid-tempo groove couresty of Ten Productions - the production house behind Soraya's last two albums and Brigitte Nielsen's amazing "No More Turning Back"! Dannii seriously needs to hire these guys. They make great, uplifting pop music and can't be that expensive if Gitta can afford them! "Duele" isn't the catchiest song on "Sin Miedo" but there's something utterly hypnotic about it. The track also offers an interesting change of pace after a string of upbeat floorfillers. I'd love to know what this is about. Poor Soraya sounds a bit forlorn. I think some fucker has been messing with my princess!
La Noche Es Para Mi - 7.5/10
The second song on the album penned by Swedes and once again, it's ever so slightly underwhelming. I love the middle eastern beats (courtesy of the team at Ten Productions) and the occasional English sentence but something is missing. The chorus doesn't really work for me and the few lyrics that I can understand are seriously tacky: "Tus ojos son un volcán" - basically, "your eyes are a volcano". A guy with red, glowing eyes? Poor Soraya is dating the anti-christ! Interestingly, there is talk that this could be Spain's 2009 Eurovision entry - although she faces stiff competition from the amazing Rebeca in Spanish pre-selection. Despite my reservations about "La Noche Es Para Mi" (The Night Is Mine), I think it would go down well at Eurovision. It's just inane enough to win over viewers and it sounds like a cross between Sertab's "Every Way I Can" and Ruslana's "Wild Dances". Eurovision nerds might be interested to note that two of the songwriters (Dimitri Stassos and Irini Michas) also have a tune entered in Melodienfestivalen (Swedish pre-selection) called "Alla", which will be performed by Sofia. I'm sure that bitch has nothing on Soraya!
Caminaré (Duet with Kate Ryan) - 10/10
Soraya's second duet with Kate Ryan is an absolute triumph. The cover version loving ladies first teamed up for "No Digas Que No" on the Spanish version of Kate's "Free" album but "Caminaré" is a massive improvement on that dud. In fact, this is one of the best songs on "Sin Miedo". Soraya and Kate harmonize wonderfully and the blend of Spanish and French is beautiful. There's also a touch of melancholy about the chorus that I find strangely touching. The first time I heard it, I was convinced it was yet another example of Kate reviving an obscure Euro hit ("Ella Elle L'a", "Voyage Voyage" etc) because of the distinct Italo disco flavour (someone has been listening to a lot of Moroder) but it's an entirely original composition. I just wish Kylie and Dannii's duet had sounded half this good.
Piel Contra Piel - 10/10
DJ Sammy returns for another expertly crafted dance anthem with "Piel Contra Piel" (Skin Against Skin). There's something incredibly atmospheric about this track. It's dark, sexy and a just a little bit naughty. In other words, it's the perfect soundtrack to Soraya's saucy FHM photoshoot! DJ Sammy really has done an amazing job on this album. His tracks are all uniformly excellent but incredibly diverse in sound. Each track explores a different dance sub-genre while staying true to Soraya's pop sensibility.
Give Me Your Love - 8.5/10
Soraya wrote "Give Me Your Love" (her only writing credit) with Spanish DJs Magan & Rodriguez. If you haven't seen the sleazy video to their dance smash "Suck My", check it out. I never thought peeling a zucchini could be so erotic! Unfortunately, "Give Me Your Love" doesn't involve sexy times with vegetables but it's still fabulous. The team from Ten Productions provide a memorable array of pristine beats and kooky sound effects, while Soraya does her best sex kitten impersonation. I particularly love the non-sensical English lyrics: "Give me your heart and nara nana nana na"! I'm guessing that was our queen's contribution. Singer, nude model, songwriting genius - Is there no end to Soraya's amazing talent?!
Uno En Un Millón - 7/10
An impressive list of people have lent their talent to "Sin Miedo". "Uno En Un Millón" (One In A Million) was written by William Luque, who has collaborated with the likes of Natalia, D'Nash, Chenoa and Spain's greatest export - Las Supremas! He's obviously a man of exquisite taste. "Uno En Un Millón" is a very solid album track but it's not a standout. I like the punchy verses and uplifting chorus but it lacks the edge of tracks like "Piel Contra Piel" and "Para Ti".
Ángel Caído - 10/10
The final Spanish language track on the album is pure pop perfection. "Ángel Caído" (Fallen Angel) is DJ Sammy's most commercial contribution to the album and really would have made a brilliant first single. It's the catchiest track on "Sin Miedo" and one of the best pop songs I've heard all year. "Ángel Caído" actually reminds me a little of Kylie's "Butterfly" - it's an unusually beautiful dance anthem, complete with gorgeous synths and an uplifting chorus. I love Soraya's voice on this. She conveys a softness and a sense of joy that is utterly contagious. I just wish Soraya would record an English version - "Ángel Caído" has international hit potential.
Rebound - 6/10
"Rebound" gets my vote for the worst song on the album. Originally performed by the tedious German girlband Monrose, this song was pretty average to begin with. Admittedly, Soraya's version is a massive improvement and I'm pleased to note that her English pronunciation has improved greatly - even since last year's "La Dolce Vita". I just think this is superfluous. The original tracks on "Sin Miedo" are all superior to this tat. It's not awful by any means but "Rebound" feels like a small step backwards.
Love Is All Around - 8/10
I expected the worst when I saw this in the tracklist. "Love Is All Around" has to be one of the most covered songs of the decade. The charisma free zone that is Agnes Carlsson ruined it originally before Ricki-Lee turned it into something extraordinary. Since then it's been covered by pop stars in Asia and South Africa. As the queen of cover versions, I guess it's only fitting that Soraya has a go at making it her own. She doesn't quite match Ricki-Lee's version but her "Love Is All Around" is a pleasant surprise. It's been given a cute dance makeover and really showcases her improved English vocals.
"Sin Miedo" should be Soraya's ticket to cult diva status around the world (move over Kate Ryan and September), which is lucky because I get the feeling Spain is not particularly interested. When I was there people generally rolled their eyes when I mentioned her name, a shop assistant offered to show me some "good" cds to buy instead and a record exec dissed Señorita Arnelas as a washed up reality star. I hope they all burn in hell!