Ximena Sariñana - Ximena Sariñana

Ximena Sariñana, Ximena Sariñana

Warner Music, Mexico

Rating: 73

by Blanca Méndez

Those of us who have followed Ximena Sariñana since her Luz Clarita days are holding our collective breath at this momentous and precarious time in the young artist’s career. She is taking that huge step into the English-language market and basically starting from scratch. In Mexico and much of Latin America, she might be a star, but to this new market, Sariñana is a newcomer who will have to earn her keep. And judging by her non-stop touring and press schedule, she’s working hard to carve out a space in the English-language pop landscape. That space has, for the most part, already been carved by other singer-songwriters like Vanessa Carlton, Sara Bareilles (who she recently toured with), Natasha Bedingfield, etc. But Sariñana has the ability to widen that space if she pursues some of the more interesting sounds she’s made on this self-titled album.

She's played it safe with single releases so far; “Wrong Miracle,” “Shine Down,” and “Different” are all agreeable, but not quite inspired. To be fair, “Wrong Miracle,” co-written by Aqualung of all people, is definitely a grower. It can appear trite upon first listen, but after a few spins, you’ll find yourself singing along, though perhaps confused as to what exactly you’re singing. Is the wrong miracle immortality/long life per the line “I am a million years old”? Or is it transformative powers per “I am a ship in a bottle, a monkey’s tail, a blue lagoon”? Kind of weird things to turn into, no? Am I missing something? What is Aqualung even doing these days, anyway? I have so many questions about this song!

“Shine Down” is undeniably the best of the singles so far. The dreamy chimes, skittish guitar melody, and slightly frustrated-sounding, yet still steady percussion clash spectacularly, still allowing the vocals to float effortlessly above the commotion. But there are other songs on Ximena Sariñana that are darker and far more intriguing. “Tomorrow,” with its tinny echoes and start-and-stop beats, feels like driving through a tunnel or like the time lapse of a city at night, while “Lies We Live In,” a frank look at navigating relationships, is one of the tracks most reminiscent of her Spanish-language work in its brassy elements and sly lyricism (“we can stop pretending I know who you are”). Sariñana seems as comfortable with nonchalant directness as she seems uncomfortable with executing choreography (see: the video for “Different”), but it’s still quite far from what we heard on 2008’s Mediocre.

“Different” is actually a pretty good and succinct review of the album in itself. Lines like “failing to communicate” are apt when there are quite a few puzzling lyrics throughout that didn’t quite cross the language bridge. From speaking to Sariñana, you get the impression that she has a strong command of the English language. Considering that and the team that she worked with on the album, I’m not sure why there’s still so much lost in translation. She might still have a lot of work to do lyrically, but musically Sariñana is exploring some truly fascinating sounds and, though I, like many of you, sometimes wish she would return to her jazz roots, I’m still excited to see where she takes her “new” pop career. When she sings “can’t believe all the risks I’m taking” on “Different,” she has good reason to be surprised at/impressed with herself. A crossover is a big move that few have pulled off successfully. But with big risk comes big reward, right? Here’s hoping it all pays off.


  1. Curioso que yo siempre critiqué sus líricas en español por inconsistentes y faltas de ritmo narrativo. Parece que hiciera lo mismo en ingles con un poco más de ritmo. Me quedo con Tu y yo y Wrong miracle,aún debo escuchar el disco completo, pero no sé porque creo que mi puntaje para el homónimo sería más bajo... debe ser que no soy fan de esta niña. Por suerte me estoy dando cuenta que no me faltan razones para dejar de serlo!

  2. It's a better-than-average pop record. I think the vocal execution here is so gorgeous. Yes, it's missing the heart-bleeding feeling from "Gris", "Mediocre" or "Un Error", but it's a very well made, polished pop record.

  3. This is a pretty good pop album, in my opinion. But the lack of those vocal-belting showcases like "Mediocre" or "Normal" really hampers the record as a whole. But regardless: I hope there's an audience for this and that they respond favorably to it. She's a pretty good example for Latinas everywhere and someone who won't sell out just for the brass ring (like Thalia).

    Also, this was a great review Blanca. Maybe my favorite of yours.

  4. This was a pretty good album. Hardly average, but not spectacular. Perhaps, I'm a bit bias, as Ximena's debut is one of five of my all-time favorite albums on my iPod. I do agree that Ximena has the music side of her "music", (for lack of a better word) nailed down. But lyrically, I had a difficult time with the lyrics in "Wrong Miracle" and "Echo Park". Perhaps those songs would sound better in Spanish than English. Speaking of Spanish, I'm not a fan of "Tu y yo". I absolutely loved that song in its earlier stages, but the final version just didn't cut it for me. The computerized beats and instruments kind of ruined the song for me. Because the lyrics are so pretty, I felt like this should have just been a piano ballad like "Mediocre". "Different" is the weakest track on the album. I never thought about the meaning behind the lyrics until reading this review, but now I think the song is a little too literal. I cannot understand why "Shine Down" wasn't the lead single for the album! It makes "Different" sound like children's music. To me, not only is it the strongest song, but I think it cements the album together as a whole. Without "Shine Down" on the album, it feels a little incomplete. Like the rest of you, I too am longing for Ximena to get back to her jazz and Spanish roots. She's already proven that she can make a perfect album, no matter the language. It's still a pretty good, fun, upbeat listen, but lacks the timelessness of "Mediocre". 8 out of 10 for me.

  5. yeahhh como siempre sorprendiendo con su talento. por eso te amo ximenaaa!!!

  6. I think I'm the only one that actually enjoyed this way, way more than her debut. There's more actual MUSIC and CREATION on this one.