If you loved the infamously campy, telenovela-themed duet Jennifer Lopez and Marc Anthony did on the Grammys two years ago, then you may like Como Ama Una Mujer, Lopez’s first all-Spanish-language album. Passions run high and pulses low on this almost entirely balladic collection, which seems ripe for a series of videos full of heartbroken hair-brushing. If, on the other hand, you were hoping J. Lo would engage Shakira in a genre-bending battle of the butts, or even indulge in anything contemporary, or fun, there’s poco to nada here for you. At its very best, the album suggests how pop history might’ve been different if Melissa Manchester were Puerto Rican.
Como Ama does represent a victory for Lopez by offering fairly persuasive proof that, contrary to rumor, she can sing, and without a regiment of background choralists. All that bulking up she’s been doing at the vocal gym isn’t enough, though, to turn flaccid torch songs into muscle. The production/writing team of Estéfano, Julio Reyes, and Marc Anthony mixes slight flamenco flavoring with assists from the London Symphony Orchestra; passable easy-listening-en-español weepies like ”Me Haces Falta” don’t begin to live up to their florid, romance-novel lyrics (”La verdad, estoy mal/Es sufrir, es gritar”— translation: ”The truth is I hurt/I’m suffering, I’m screaming”). Torpor, it turns out, really is the universal language. C+