The title of this album references bullfighting, which means to charge closer towards the bull. Bullfighting is something Calamaro is very passionate about, and his support for the ancient bloodsport is blunt and unapologetic.
After a few listening sessions, I can say that Cargar la Suerte is a solid, pretty good but not great rock en Español album. It is a guitar-focused and well-balanced album, similar to previous Calamaro Albums. However, he is not trying something different here. He is staying within his musical lane, which works perfect for him, and it is what Calamaro fans have come to expect. Lyrically is where I take issue with this record. Calamaro has a history of writing lyrics focusing mostly on Argentinian culture and politics, which is difficult to follow if you are not intimately familiar with Argentinian issues, even some of the language and slang choices are not used or understood outside of Argentina. Bunbury and Sabina, for example, are two Spaniards who make use of their extensive vocabulary in most of their lyrics, and still, their message is understood and easy to follow; they avoid falling into opaque and incomprehensible language. Therein lies the difference in the mainstream international appeal of artists like Bunbury and Sabina, where Calamaro, on the other hand, has a limited and off-center appeal in markets outside of Argentina and Spain.
This album won the Latin Grammy for Best Pop/Rock Album of the year, which I do not believe it deserved, and it also won Best Rock Song for Verdades Afiladas, which it also did not deserve. Look, in the past, Calamaro made three incredible records, three records that I consider to be very important, essential and iconic Rock en Español albums; Alta Suciedad (1997), Honestidad Brutal(1999) and El Salmon (2000). Everything else that he has made since has been from pretty good to mediocre. For Example, El Cantante (2004), a non-rock en Español album made up of classic covers of iconic Latin songs and three original tracks. It was a very refreshing departure from his previous albums, I bought El Cantante on CD when it was first released, and I continue to enjoy it ’till this day. Lengua Popular (2007), was a huge commercial success and it was lyrically the closest thing to his earlier work. On the Rock (2010) was another ambitious undertaking where he collaborated with a bunch of different artists like Bunbury, Calle 13, Diego El Cigala to name a few, and even dived into more popular Latin rhythms like cumbia and even some reggaeton. Nevertheless, it was not a remarkable achievement, and it fell flat compared to previous releases. Bohemio (2013) was a forgettable and lazy album. Romaphonic Sessions (Volumen 11, 2016), was a stripped-down studio album recording where Calamaro is only accompanied by a piano, performing a mix of covers and a few of his own, it was an interesting experiment but inconsequential.
Cargar la Suerte Track List:
Track 1-Verdades Afiladas: This track was the first single, and it sounds like a classic Calamaro tune, the closest thing in this album to his previous work. And the lyrics have a quick references to older hits like Te Quiero Igual (Honestidad brutal, ’99) and Las Oportunidades (El Cantante, ’04).
Track 2- Transito Lento: The Saxophone stands out beautifully on this track. Waiting around patiently to travel from place to place and the life of the traveling musician is the main message here. Solid track.
Track 3-Cuarteles de Invierno: The theme here is about returning to Argentina during the cold winter, full of songs and full of nostalgia. It’s a very gratifying rock ballad.
Track 4-Diego Armando Canciones: This song is a mellow and measured ballad. A reflection of how Calamaro currently sees himself as a musician and as a human being. While at the same time addressing some of his detractors.
Track 5-Las Rimas: The most daring track of this album, where Calamaro Raps, rants and rages. Although this is a rap song, there are no hip-hop beats here, its electric guitar-driven, and it works nicely.
Track 6-Siete Vidas: This is one of the best tracks of this album. Fast-paced, up-tempo, a throwback to Calamaro of years past.
Track 7-Mi Ranchera: A passionate and emotional ballad.
Track 8-Falso LV: Fake Louis Vuitton is what the title of this track means. References all the fake rockeros out there, and the hypocrisy of our times. This is a song that would’ve fit perfectly on either Honestidad Brutal or Alta Suciedad.
Track 9- My Mafia: An acoustic and personal ballad, a heart to heart to the value of friendships.
Track 10-Adan Rechaza: Another fast-paced, up-tempo electric guitar-driven track. Very much in the spirit of Calamaro’s older work. It is a manifesto to living his life on his terms even after his death in the afterlife.
Track 11-Egoistas: Pop-rock en Español at its finest.
Track 12-Voy a Volver: It’s a beautiful ballad. The promise of an eventual return home. The idea of leaving things behind, seeing the world and learning along the way how to return home. There is a hidden instrumental track a few seconds after track 12 ends……
All in all, this is a good rock en Español album. It is not an instant classic as Calamaro’s previous work from the ‘90s and early 2000s, but it is still a solid achievement. Nevertheless, considering the standard Calamaro set for himself over twenty years ago, Cargar la Suerte was not deserving of a Latin Grammy for Best Pop/Rock Album of the year. The Latin Grammy Academy has a long history of bestowing this award to the biggest name in the list of nominees regardless of the quality of the work. In the previous award ceremony (2017), Juanes was awarded the Best Pop/Rock Album for Mis Planes Son Amarte, which was a joke of an album, but Juanes was the most popular name within all the nominees. In 2016 Los Fabulosos Cadillacs won in the same category, and it was far from their best work, but once again, they were the most prominent name within the list of nominees. There is a vast disconnect between the people in charge of selecting the nominees and the people voting for the winner.
Calamaro fancies himself as the Rock en Español’s version of Bob Dylan, which he is not. The closest thing we have in Spanish Rock to Dylan is Joaquin Sabina. My issues with Calamaro as of late is that as an icon of Rock en Español, he tends to take himself way too seriously sometimes, calling himself a rockstar every chance he gets, and of course, he is a rockstar. However, on the other hand, you have rockeros like Enrique Bunbury and Mikel Erentxun who do not have to go around shouting to the wind about being a rockstar, and they both embody the rockstar persona without any self-promoting antics. Bunbury and Erentxun keep on making records that sound and feel different from their previous work; they are continually pushing the boundaries, while Calamaro continues on repeating the same formula over and over again, erecting altars to his long-past glory days, and Cargar la suerte is a clear reflection of all of his past work and all of his past glory; A good album but not a great one.