Throughout the years, there have been some genres that I don’t usually embrace as openly — mostly because I prefer to hold them tight and indulge in music that isn’t as universally loved by pop. Traditional and Regional Mexican Folk and Pop music has been that for me recently, and my enjoyment rings true with my love of artists like Aida Cuevas and Los Tigres Del Norte. This past weekend, Ángela Aguilar, daughter of Mexican Folk/Pop legend Pepe Aguilar, has released her anticipated follow-up to the radiant Primero Soy Mexicano. Her new album, Mexicana Enamorada, continues to explore themes of love and nationalism (sonically), the latter of which made Primero Soy Mexicano such a beautifully composed and delivered Regional-Mexican album. It is full of Ranchero and Mariachi overtones, like the lively strings and hypnotic blending of horns, which transfer over to her new album, giving us a more pop-focused album.
Nepotism aside, Ángela Aguilar makes use of what she has to establish her identity as an artist. And for a 17-Year-Old artist, it can be strenuous to do so as their career still has a long path before finishing. She is like some of her contemporaries in America — Billie Eilish and Olivia Rodrigo. They have been able to understand what they want without succumbing to bubblegum-pop trappings like JoJo Siwa. And for Ángela, the power and range of her voice shake up the dynamics behind what she can and cannot sing over — it shows significantly throughout her new album, as it slowly delves into these unique pop sounds and elevating what to expect from this new wave of Mexican artists.
Mexicana Enamorada centers itself on exploring love through different machinations — Ángela Aguilar speaks on her family, mirroring the love that inspires her, and as well, Mexico, albeit being born in Los Angeles, California. She doesn’t let herself become misguided by American culture and establishes herself amongst music that comes from the heart. It has given her an edge in the Latin community, and her duet with Christian Nodal, another young Mexican star, “Dime Cómo Quieres,” proves to be that. As the Latin community fawns over Christian, he is put in the back seat as Ángela takes the wheel. His vocal performance stands on its two feet, but some of his melodies come across as a bit pedestrian in the beginning. It picks up steam as the song hits the first chorus, unlike most songs on the album, which has consistency from start to finish.
The music shifts on a whim, slowly incorporating pop-ballad-like percussion onto Mexican-Folk making songs like “Fuera De Servicio” and “Te Quiero Pa Mi” such beautiful standouts. These types of songs carry themselves tremendously. However, they aren’t like the ranchero hit, “En Realidad.” As soon as “En Realidad” hits, it immediately transfixes you into this world where the guitars and horns take a slight melancholic approach, illuminating the love ballad to new heights. For some of us traditionalists, we may easily find ourselves doing 1-2-3 dosie as the production keep you two light feet. If you’re one for a more lively Ranchero dance number that makes you want to grab your significant other for a lovely dance, then she has “Dime Cómo Quieres” for you to play.
Despite great individualized highlights which represent her Mexican identity, her pop-focused songs have more control. The softening vocals by Ángela Aguilar are different from her last album, giving her more vulnerability as she slowly slides into a new direction opposite her Dad’s mainstay — Traditional Pop-Ranchero. “Ella Qué Te Dio” and the opening song, “Ahí Donde Me Ven,” take hold of pop archetypes and edit them to fit within the other influencing sounds on the production — i.e. the traditionalistic lively horns and strings of the genre. The former is co-written by Latin-Pop superstars Jesse & Joy as they navigate the elegant pop ballad to make Ángela be front and center instead of Jesse & Joy’s remarkable harmonization.
It’s to note that despite Ángela not writing all of her music, the writers have a sense of her style and give her a boost, like Latin-Pop icon Ana Bárbara who wrote “En Realidad.” However, the songs Ángela writes still have a beautiful cadence to them, like the previously mentioned “Fuera De Servicio.”
Beyond Ángela Aguilar’s luscious vocals, the production holds equal weight, despite the second to last song becoming lost amongst the others. The production is handled predominately by her father Pepe, and as consistent as he is, you sense the small contribution the co-producers respectively bring. Uniquely, Pepe doesn’t allow himself to overshadow them on few occasions, like on “Ella Qué Te Dio,” which is co-produced by Cheche Alara — known for his production on the collection of Musas album by Natalia LaFourcade. His elegant string orchestrations and lowly piano keys keep the ballad focused and far from the loud and loverly vibe of others. Even with the mildly forgettable “Inevitable,” the production still holds barring.
Mexicana Enamorada is a beautiful follow-up for Ángela Aguilar, but despite having an identity, she still has a lot to travel before she engulfs herself further in the music. I thoroughly enjoyed this album — some songs in pieces and others as a whole, but there is enough to keep 7 of 9 in rotation. As well, she has shown that she can take the wheel and control the song when others may be waning your interest. If you’re a fan of this type of music, I implore you to seek her workout and others, as this music beautifully resonates with their culture.