Picks and Pans Review: Unwrapped

updated 10/06/2003 at 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 10/06/2003 01:00AM

Gloria Estefan
POP

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Long before Jennifer Lopez, Shakira and Thalia, Gloria Estefan was getting listeners on their feet to Latin pop. On her first English-language album since 1998's Gloria!, the 46-year-old singer proves that she could still show those chicas a few things. Rather than embarrassingly trying to update her sound with, say, hip-hop or electronica, Estefan makes a disc that has a rich, authentic Latin flavor. Recorded live in the studio with real musicians, Unwrapped has an organic, unplugged feel with traditional instrumentation like mandolin and cajones (a hand drum) on songs such as the grandly sweeping "Time Waits." Stevie Wonder's harmonica and background vocals add a soulful splash to "Into You," while Chrissie Hynde brings a rockish edge to the duet "One Name." Estefan is in strong, sure voice throughout, making even the more banal pop ballads bearable.

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