David Bisbal was the runner-up on Spain's first season of Operación Triunfo (Pop Idol). Charming, drop-dead gorgeous and with a voice to knock you off your feet (not to mention some fabulous dance moves), David quickly became the darling of Spain before touring in the Americas and capturing a Latin Grammy for Best New Artist in 2003. His first album Corazón Latino was a summery, sugary blend of campy dance (the ubiquitous Ave Maria, Lloraré Las Penas with its salsa attitude, the street smart Como Será, and Corazón Latino) interspersed with sensual ballads such as Dígale, Fuiste Mía, and Por Cuanto Tiempo. Although Corazón Latino benefited from production by Kike Santander, the songs seemed to run together and lack distinct personalities.
Two years later, on Bulería, David showcases a more mature voice, better vocal control, darker tones, and more creative input. He sports a new look as well, having grown out his trademark ringlets to sensual shoulder length. The twelve songs are tinged with the fire and grace of flamenco (Bisbal hails from Almería in Andalucia), evident in the handclaps, flamenco guitars, gritas, and flashes of impassioned cante jondo.
Buleria is much more balanced between ballads and uptempo, which isn't a bad thing at all, although a seemingly schizophrenic combination at times, so completely distinct are the two sides of David. Permítame Señora, Esta Ausencia, the heartstopping Me Derrumbo, Se Acaba, Desnúdate Mujer, and Condenado a Tu Amor unfold with the gentle beauty of a moonflower. David (or Bisbi as some fans call him) is the male equivalent to Céline Dion: when he hits the climax of the song, he belts it (see: the end of Permítame Señora and Esta Ausencia), but just as hauntingly, his voice might taper off to an impassioned, soul-wrenching whisper, as in the end of Se Acaba, the passionate vocal acrobatics of Desnúdate Mujer, and the haunting Me Derrumbo, one of the most beautiful ballads I've ever heard.
Uptempo, dance-friendly tracks include the addictive Bulería, with its hints of Arabic bellydance, Cuban salsa, and flamenco, Oye el Boom, ¿Cómo Olvidar? Camina y Ven, Ángel de la Noche, and the clubby Amores del Sur.
David Bisbal seriously has to be the hardest-working artist in show business today. No pathetic lip-synching for him: his live shows are 120% energy and he gives his all to his fans, signing autographs and dishing out hugs to hysterical teenage females in addition to sounding as good as his studio recordings night after night (he usually tours for four or five months, a show a day, and is kicking off a South American tour in the near future) and dancing like a whirling dervish. David's projects include a forthcoming disc featuring three previously unreleased tracks in English.
Sensual, flirty, with the fire and grace of flamenco and enough uptempo sizzle for club play, Buleria is a standout disc, neither overproduced nor underpowered. It is a tribute to the sensual rhythms of Andalucia and the talent of one of Spain's rising stars. It totally deserved to win the 2004 Latin Grammy for Best Pop Album, and has been overlooked for the 2005 Latin Pop Grammy. Buleria is without a doubt one of the best discs to come out in years. Bisbi forever!