Juan Luis Guerra is nominated for best tropical album at the upcoming Grammys (Jan. 26) for his album, Literal. That should come as no surprise to perennial Grammy watchers: Guerra has already won three Grammy awards, and this year’s nomination is one out of his eight all-time total. At the Latin Grammys, he has taken home an astounding 21 statuettes.
Over his prolific career, Guerra, 62, the godfather of contemporary tropical music and a masterful songwriter, has reinvented the rhythms of bachata and merengue from his native Dominican Republic for international audiences in songs that transmit a unique blend of spiritualism, social consciousness, wry observation and plenty of amor.
He describes the music on Literal, on which he’s backed by his band 4.40, as “something new and very modern.” It is undoubtedly pure Guerra, featuring an infectious fusion of tropical styles, bedazzled with jazz and pop, personal anecdotes and, always, pure sentiment.
See below for five essential tracks from the Grammy-nominated Literal:
The album’s opening and most structurally innovative track finds Guerra performing his brand of tropipop, rapping down a list of offerings to his beloved backed by synth and bachata beats.
“Lampara Pa’ Mis Pies”
A sunny, spiraling ode to Guerra’s wife, Nora, his perpetual muse, and also to the African roots of Caribbean music.
“I Love You More”
An addictive silly love song set to a fast-moving, intricately-arranged merengue.
“Má Pa’lante Vive Gente”
Guerra’s old school salsa number is an invigorating anthem of hope. For singing out loud.
“Merengue de Cuna”
Guerra’s music is always a family affair. Literal closes with a spare acoustic lullaby for all ages.