In 2009, Alejandro Fernández displayed two different sides of his artistry with his albums Dos Mundos: Evolución and Dos Mundos: Tradición. While Evolución emphasizes his Latin pop side, Tradición has a stronger ranchera/mariachi factor -- which is not to say that Tradición will be mistaken for a collection of Antonio Aguilar recordings from the ‘50s and ‘60s. Fernández doesn't divorce himself from his Latin pop background on Tradición; in fact, most of the songs were written by Latin pop superstar Joan Sebastian -- but the ranchera/mariachi element is noticeably stronger on Tradición than it is on Evolución. And clearly, Tradición and Evolución each have their own personalities. Evolución is essentially Latin pop with regional Mexican overtones, whereas Tradición favors more of an integration of ranchera and Latin pop elements. So which of the two albums is the most enjoyable? Actually, they are both enjoyable. And even though some people may opt to acquire Tradición and Evolución separately, Fernández has plenty of die-hard fans who will no doubt want to obtain Dos Mundos: Evolución y Tradición, which combines the albums as a two-CD set. It should be noted that Fernández isn't the only Mexican vocalist who has compartmentalized his Latin pop and ranchera sides; in 2008, Rocío Banquells' simultaneously came out with a pop-oriented live album (Nací Para Ti: Baladas) and a ranchera/mariachi-oriented live album (Nací Para Ti: Rancheras). She really dug into the Great Mexican Songbook on the latter, performing time-honored standards such as "La Puerta Negra" and "Cucurrucucu Paloma" (if Tin Pan Alley can be called the Great American Songbook, is there any reason why classic ranchera gems shouldn't be called the Great Mexican Songbook?). In contrast to Banquells' performances on Nací Para Ti: Rancheras, this release isn't as hardcore in its ranchera-isms. But then, Fernández never claimed to be a ranchera purist -- nor did Banquells, for that matter -- and Tradición is a likable effort whether one is enjoying it as a stand-alone CD or as half of the double-disc Dos Mundos: Evolución y Tradición. ~ Alex Henderson, Rovi

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