From the first few minutes of Independence Day, I thought I was listening to a Daughtry album by mistake. Fortunately, it's an honest mistake I would believe that any American Idol fan or any pop radio listener would unfailing do the same. Daughtry fans would probably beg to differ.
Independence Day is actually the English language debut from popular Latin singer-songwriter Frankie Negron, who has spent the last ten years releasing album after album with much acclaim.
Although at first glance it would seem that Negron missed the boat when other Latin artists such as Ricky Martin and Shakira enjoyed crossover success in the Total Request Live era of the late 1990s. Instead, Negron sees what's he's accomplished during that time as fuel for starting the next chapter in his musical career.
"You have to remember singing is an art, and if you're influenced by certain music, why not embrace it?" Negron explains of the album's pop rock sound (press release). "Making Independence Day has served not only to help me learn more about myself, it has also helped to reawaken my love and passion for what I do."
And indeed, he does have passion. "Torn" opens with the fervor of deliberate attitude and concealed sensitivity. Any hint of edge disappears in the subsequent power ballad "Holding On To Love" that's a throwback to the leather jacket-wearing rock bands of the 1980s.
Having enjoyed most of those 1980s hits growing up, it's hard not to feel the music sounding desperately outdated when the fourth and fifth songs ("Just Like Yesterday" and "She's Still Amazing") come around.
Negron mixes it up a bit during the album's second half, tossing in some salsa-minded tracks ("Another Day") with some more Latin-flavored tracks ("Your One True Hero") and also more Daughtry-like songs ("Turn Your World On"). The album obviously wouldn't be complete if it wasn't rounded out with some Spanish-language songs. While he began his English language debut with the best of intentions, Independence Day ends up as a mishmash of aged and manufactured pop rock sounds.