Picks and Pans Review: Mosaique
As last year's ethnic discovery, the Kings brought some zesty flamenco flair to the album charts. Adding a pinch of pop arrangements to their Old World style, the six-member group of bona fide Gypsies from southern France had most critics applauding. The Gipsy Kings LP sold surprisingly well—150,000 copies in America alone—and suddenly the Kings were no longer just the darlings of Europe's jet set, who hired them as a kind of chic novelty to entertain at their round-the-clock parties.
The bloom is slightly off the rose in this second release, but some might suggest that's inevitable. It's hard to sustain that kind of appreciation for music that for all its flavor and spice has limited appeal. The infusion of synthesizers and hard drums this time detracts from the beauty of the flamenco rhythms, and the Kings get better results when they stick to their nylon strings.
"Caminando por la Calle," co-written with Ruben Blades, is a seductive lure with some gentle folk-guitar strumming and lead singer Nicolas Reyes's smooth vocals. You could join in on the brisk hand-clapping on the title song to help stay warm or just let the lovely, spry melodies of "Liberté" fill the room. Reyes's voice gets pretty strained, however, and a guest vocalist like Blades could have offered not just relief but a better mix. (Elektra Musician)