21 of 23 people found the following review helpful
on September 23, 2003
What can be said of this truly amazing album by Gloria Estefan that can justify it's innovation. For a start Gloria has returned with a sound unlike anything she has ever done before and unlike her contemporaries she has not resorted to a musical form in order to impact the current top 40.
It's production values are truly outstanding and if given the correct marketing this could be the album of 2003. Outstanding tracks include the promotional single "Wrapped". It's raw, acoustic sounds combined with Peruvian pan-pipes, mandolin guitar, harmonic vocals and poetic lyrics, haunt you for a long time after it's finished. "A little push" is truly surprising as Gloria's lush vocals float atop a bed of brooding baselines and moody unplugged guitar rifts, finding her visit a place she's never been before. On the acoustic, guitar driven ballad "Your Picture" Gloria takes us on an uplifting journey through nostalgia to a place where our memories reunite us with those passed on. Here her rich, honey soaked vocals accompany some beautifully lush classical guitar with a very modern arrangement. The powerful "I wish You" echoes elements of The Beatles at their creative-peak with an arrangement not unlike that of guitar bands Travis or Oasis and with collaborations on this album that include Stevie Wonder (who also plays harmonica on the Southern Bayou influenced "into you") and Chrissie Hynde (the uptempo, flamenco infused "One Name") we find her twisting the conventions of latin pop on its head. Sounding more genuine and spirited on this album than ever before, it is almost like a storybook of life and because it's poetic lyrics are based around real-life experiences they certainly relate to us all. Here is an album, Gloria's "Tapestry" album, dripping with untailored artistry and class. 5 STARS
12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on September 25, 2003
When Gloria Estefan said that this was her most intimate and passionate album ever, she wasn't kidding. UNWRAPPED is clearly her most thoughtful and strong album to date. The songwriting, all of which Estefan wrote herself, is pure imagery and captivation. She pulls no strings-the lyrics aim straight for the heart as she bares her soul, telling how the world really is and how one cannot live without love. Sure, Estefan's known "balladry" is evident on this original collection, but they prove to be some of her best songs yet. "Your Picture" is probably the strongest ballad on the album, with a forceful chorus. The song is very acoustic and passionate. Estefan truly shines through on this track. The song talks about how a picture says a million words, even when the person is gone. Very melancholy. "Wrapped," the current single, is nice, yet may seem too folkloric for this record. The Peruvian sound is definitely different and it brings a nice, warm touch to the album. The strongest tracks on the album are "I Wish You" and the lead opener, "A Little Push." Rock fans will even be delighted by these tracks, as Estefan creates a new sound bringing rock, jazz, African, Latin, and even Jamaican rhythms seamlessly together. "Time Waits" sounds as if it could be on a Bon Jovi album, with a stellar acoustic opening. The songwriting on this particular track is undoubtedly deep, as Estefan is telling how life can just go by without one even knowing it. To add to that, two all-star duets are present-Stevie Wonder on "Into You" and Chrissie Hynde on "One Name." They bring an incredible vibe to the album with their unique delivery. Oh, and of course, the album cannot be complete without a couple of pure Latin-tinged tracks. "Te Amare" and "You," dedicated to her daughter Emily, are full of warm, South American percussion with mandolin and vintage guitars. UNWRAPPED closes with a chilling, tell-all song entitled "Famous." Here, Estefan shocks us with her simplicity as she questions life and telling how she never meant to be famous, having full of fame. For Estefan's Latin fans, four of the English tracks are translated into Spanish. The special treat here is a special documentary DVD that Estefan's son, Nayib, produced. Here, Estefan is giving thanks to all her loyal fans by giving an in-depth look at one of music's finest female artists. With an album such as this caliber, it's hard to imagine Estefan topping this album. If you don't have a Gloria Estefan album in your collection, this is surely the one to go with. UNWRAPPED finally shows the music world what Estefan is all about: a sophisticated, intellectual female singer/songwriter who isn't afraid to tell it like it is. Five years was, conceivably, well worth the wait. Simply put, a classic album by a timeless artist.
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on October 3, 2003
'She's okay.' 'I don't care for her too much.' 'Is she still alive?'
These are the kinds of sad comments I have heard, along with the great commentary. It is sad that in the USA, and now throughout the world, BAD music dominates charts. Everyone has a preconceived idea of what Gloria is. She's an'80's pop star', or a saucy Latin dance diva... This album, 'Unwrapped', declares ONCE and for all that the woman behind great pop songs of yore, is now(and always was) a great artist. She is a fantastic writer, and although some do not care for her vocals, she more than holds her own in this album. In fact, I'd say it is her best album vocally. Confident. Yearning. Matter-of-fact. The songs on this album are entirely enthralling. Although organic in it's make up, and 'non-fattening' as Gloria says on the DVD(which is worth the price of the disc all by itself!), the disc is not what you may be thinking. Sure, there are hints of Latin music, but this is the first time in a long time that the congas, and horns are taking a backseat. In fact, they are not on the album at all. There are no dance songs(as in the 'gloria!'(1998)album), but there is something you may be shocked to hear on her album for the for the first time... Jamaican Dancehall! This album is SO lush, and brilliantly produced(her first time producing an album herself) that I would have killed to be there when it was recorded...everything was recorded live.. all the musicians, all the singing, vocals, all instruments... That must have been something to see. As an added bonus, along with the DVD, the album includes four gorgeous Spanish-language versions of the songs. Why does the Spanish-language market embrace her so much more strongly than the stupid English-language radioheads. God, radio is JUST awful.
Wake up people. This woman is a true artist. Give her the recognition she truly deserves.
12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
on October 1, 2003
After five years away from the English market-an eternity in the business-Gloria returns with her aptly titled "Unwrapped", a collection of beautifully poetic songs that takes the listener on a musical journey through the artist's tragedies and triumphs. Each of the fourteen English songs was written by Estefan, and her intimate connection to the material is captured and showcased in the passion and conviction in which she delivers her vocals. Never known for diva-like range, Estefan manages to pull at the heart strings of her audience with a voice that is both sweet and humble, mysterious and yet instantly recognizable. The focus here, however, is on the songwriting. For the first time in her illustrious career, Gloria Estefan bares her soul in lyrics that serve as snapshots from a life that has seen the highest of highs and lowest of lows. "Time Waits" and "Say Goodbye" perhaps draw influence from the singer's greatest hardships-the loss of her father and an automobile accident that left her with a broken back. The message? That time is fleeting. We never know when we will take our last breath, so we should live each moment like it's our last. "Wrapped", the beautiful first single, is so subtle in its origins that it leaves the listener pondering for whom it was written. "I Wish You" is a power ballad that finds Estefan sending love and forgiveness to those who have wronged her as opposed to avenging their cruelty. Perhaps the gutsiest song on this album, however, is "Famous", a tune that finds Estefan putting fame under a microscope and exposing its inevitable downfalls. Other highlights include the set opener, "A Little Push", a bilingual scorcher titled "Te Amare", and "Your Picture", a sparse ballad that captures what is perhaps Gloria's rawest vocal performance to date. And "One Name", a duet with rocker Chrissie Hynde that examines the gap between social classes, perfectly exemplifies Estefan's diversity as both a writer and performer. "Unwrapped" is a brilliant statement- musical and personal-from an artist who continues to raise the standard by which contemporary music is judged. 18 years after "Conga" danced its way into America's heart and launched her groundbreaking career, Gloria Estefan has given fans her definitive masterpiece, an album that has a sound and spirit all it's own. Without question, it was worth the wait.
12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
on September 27, 2003
The art in the sleeve booklet is truly the work of an artist, using her body as a canvas; Mario Betancourt makes her look visually inspiring and unique. Her name is in the production credits as a producer, is in every single lyric and of course, her voice...that voice that brings us a new gift...the sound of "Unwrapped". Gloria Estefan is back to share what has got to be her best effort to date. An album that captures sounds, voices and chants that are only hers in a full frontal way with no attachments to anyone other than her sound and words.
With music that may reminds us of the early "MSM" times, passing by post "Destiny" melodies ending with a sound so raw it challenges current media of trash pre-fab sounds.
"Wrapped" the current single, is a song written to inspire you when thinking of a place or someone. It captures world music at its best (Peruvian this time). But with an album that doesn't have urgency for media explosion the choices for another favorite are hard, since most songs flow in unison like we've never heard before. The album hits it off with "A little push", fresh start with a happy chorus asking you to fall in love with her (how couldn't we), follows "Te amaré" with great string arrangements and a Latin folk sound. The next "Your picture" converts itself in an instant winner, lyrically rich it makes you visualize what she is singing about. We hear the sounds of "Wrapped" and this one leads to "Time waits" with an ending so awesome mixing her vocals with a chant you don't want it to end. The following track "In the meantime" is a song of love, great track (one of my favorites). The sensual "Dangerous game" is next and it leads to "Into you" with S.Wonder making wonders with the vocals ("Te quiero mucho" he says) and harmonica. The next one has another guest "Pretenders vocalist, Chrissie Hynde) "One name" blending modern and acoustic in a unique way."I will always need your love" is fun to listen to, "Say goodbye" has powerful lyrics, a lesson of life from someone whose 'been there than that'. If there is a song to be picked next to support this album it has to be "I wish you" this is Gloria at her best, both lyrically and vocally. "You" has a raspy chorus with a message of how destiny works. The album closes its English songs with "Famous" what a song! She has managed to create a truly singer/songwriter effort on this one.
She speaks to us of passion, people, places, love. But most of all this is Gloria as REAL as it gets.
Like she says on "Te amaré": "Some pass to quickly, others stay behind...but, I'm where I wanted all along..." Here, with you and me. Welcome back Gloria.
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on September 27, 2003
UNWRAP Gloria Estefan's new album and you will find:
*FOND MEMORIES in a fresh new bag!
-If you've been a Gloria Estefan/Miami Sound Machine fan since their early days and loved albums such as OTRA VEZ, TODA MAQUINA and EYES OF INNOCENCE, you will adore UNWRAPPED (which somehow manages to recapture the freshness and innocence of such songs as "Baila Conmigo" and "I Need You Now" and yet start all over with a new twist.)
-In an age when almost every mainstream pop artist is guilty of leaving the drum machine on and exiting the room, here is an album of natural sound and raw talent. On the one hand, there are pop-driven songs such as "Into You" touched with class by Stevie Wonder's wonderful harmonia and backing vocals. On the other you've got the magnificent "I Wish You" which takes your breath away with its broad sweep and lovely harmonies (its approach has the heart and soul of the Gloria we loved in the 80s!)
*MATURITY AND STELLAR STYLE:
-For those of you who want PRIMITIVE LOVE and RHYTHM IS GONNA GET YOU repackaged, you have to suspend those albums from your mind and open it to "newness." Gloria's famous songs from the 80s will always be more than just "hits" ("Conga" IS timeless after all) but don't dwell in the past so much you miss what is truly a beautiful album.
Here is a collection of songs with a lot to say: a musical anthology of important themes in songs such as "One Name" (the universalness of human existence) and "Famous" (the times and trials of being a celebrity) and more personal ones such as "Your Picture" and "Say Goodbye."
Gloria Estefan should be very proud of this album especially since she has put such harmony and sincerity into what could prove to be a critical success. Her voice is the strongest it's been in years and her timbre sometimes as polished and vulnerable as the great Karen Carpenter (though in her own way.) UNWRAPPED has been on my CD player many times since its release on Tuesday and the feelings it has stirred are priceless; it's been a long time since I felt a strong emotional connection to an entire album (well except for the lovely CD 1972 by Josh Rouse released this past summer.)
11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on September 23, 2003
All I can say about this album is...wow! Gloria has truly amazed me! I knew if anyone could do it, it would be her, but still...I am shocked!
Indeed, there is nothing on this album indicative of a hit single, further proving to the industry that Gloria is not at all afraid to follow her muse. Gloria lyricized every track on here, from the sensual A LITTLE PUSH to the moving SAY GOODBYE and the serene lead single WRAPPED to the intriguing ONE NAME, a vocal duet with Chrissie Hynde, and all the tracks, after being played in sequence, become addictive extremely fast!
Longtime musical collaborators such as Jon Secada and her husband Emilio are still present while we have some new collaborators present that have doubtless provided new sources of inspiration for Gloria. The four Spanish tracks included at the end are also excellent (including current #1 Latin single HOY, the Spanish rendition of WRAPPED) and the Bonus DVD directed by Nayib (her son) are all excellent. In fact, the DVD is really interesting, as it includes a candid interview with Gloria taking you on a tour of Miami speaking of her childhood and of her career and other various topics, all the while including news footage from 1990 at the time of her tour bus crash that nearly paralyzed her. Any diehard Gloria fan will be in sheer heaven watching the DVD alone!
At last, Gloria has created the ultimate singer/songwriter album. She has never had an album she has written every lyric on, and now that she has released such an album I hope she continues this trend of self-lyricization. I had read reports that excited me when I heard UNWRAPPED would be to her English fans what MI TIERRA was to her Latin fans, and needless to say my expectations were immeasurably surpassed.
If you like Gloria and/or good music, there is no way you can go wrong picking up UNWRAPPED. It is definitely her best album to date. If the next album is half as good as this, I won't mind waiting 10 years.
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on October 4, 2003
La Gloria just remains so consistent...I am so in awe. Adore her, miss her (she hasn't been to Ireland since 1996!!) and I just can't stop listening to this lush and introspective recording. A Little Push is so surreptitiously infectious....a confident song about tellin a lover that they're about to fall under her spell (who wouldn't???), Te Amare is the closest thing to the ''pop'' Gloria of old which rumbas along and gets the feet moving....I could go on and on about this collection. The organic instrumentation, the powerful lyrics and the sincerity of Gloria's vocals indicate an artiste who is experienced and in her prime, unafraid to take a road less travelled to give her audience something fresh and revealing about her. I Will Always Need Your Love is a catchy reggae type affair that I love, and I Wish You a plaintive and vocally challenging ballad which is chilling. What more can I say, Gloria's crown remains firmly in tact as a continually innovative, original and honest musical artist who creates from the heart out of love of music and not out of love of the bank balance or record sales....somehow though, I think the former will ensure the latter two happen. Well worth investigation!!!!
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on September 24, 2003
Wow. I have been a big time Gloria fan for just over ten years now. And I must say that it never ceases to amaze me the depth that Gloria has as a singer/songwriter. Unwrapped has been described as an "organic" album and it delivers. Every song on the album has this warm and inviting sort of rhythm. As a long time Gloria fan, this album has a familiarity to it and yet at the same time is distinctly different and stands on its own. I would recommend this album to anyone fond of latin music as well has anyone who appreciates music that has a soul to it and isn't just some "out of the mold" pop music.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on September 26, 2003
I would have given this 4 1/2 stars because it's slower than I would have liked at times, but nonetheless this album is sure to please those who buy it.
Many songs on the album evoke other artist without being imitations; the intro to "I Wish You", for example, has a psychedelic, almost late-Beatles feel. Ska-flavored "You" could be at home on a No Doubt album.
What's best about the album is the depth in each song, in both instrumentation and lyrics. Gloria is a craftsman [sic] both in the fourteen English tracks, and in the four Spanish "bonus" tracks. Many songs are introspective, often wrenching, like "Famous"; others are light and playful, like "A Little Push".
The instruments on several songs are put to good use, like the Andean "quena" in "Wrapped", its Spanish version "Hoy", and in "Te Amare" (and its identically-named Spanish verson.) Guitar is everywhere, as is snare percussion. Harmonica, played by guest artist Stevie Wonder, even appears, on "Into You".
This is Gloria's first English-language album in six years. In a more reflective album than the past, this picks up from where "Destiny" left off and shows the next stage of the evolution of a truly gifted musician.