Reggaeton mainstay Randy Nota Loca (one half of Jowell y Randy) is back and exploring his romantic side with his latest solo project, Roses & Wine. While the set certainly has some of the dembow flavor his group is known for, Roses & Wine is surprisingly more of a straight up R&B affair – which has its benefits and drawbacks.
Roses & Wine’s sounds and lyrics are exactly what you might expect from an album with such a title. The set is replete with slick slow jam production (almost too slick in some parts) that highlights Randy’s pleasant if unremarkable vocals. Its subject matter doesn’t stray too far from sex, love, and back again. The entire album has a late 90s vibe to it, which vacillates from well-executed (“Rosas y Vinos,” “Te Propongo”) to painfully dated (“Yo Lloro,” “Take It Slow”). “La Vida Es Asi” finds the right balance between the sounds of a Jowell y Randy project and the emotional pitch Roses & Wine aims for. Elsewhere, Randy teams up with Álvaro Díaz on “Haciendo de Todo” for a record that could easily follow one of Trey Songz and Drake’s sexy collabs. One of the biggest surprises is the stripped down acoustic guitar on “Contigo,” which has more than just a few shades of Extreme’s epic rock ballad “More Than Words.”
Roses & Wine also has a wide range of guests. Groupmate Jowell drops a verse on “EveryDay,” and Arcangel and De La Ghetto make two appearances each (including on a remix to “Sin Mucha Demora”). Aside from these and the aforementioned Álvaro Díaz verse, however, the features seem largely obligatory and add very little, a sentiment that can be applied to many of the songs contained here, as well.
It’s clear Randy has a soft spot for the R&B of yesteryear, before crooners went full-on thug instead of embracing their romantic, sensual side. There’s definitely a gap in the market for this type of artist, but what Randy possesses in passion he sometimes lacks in direction and urgency. The best throwback albums remind you of music you loved in the past, but with a fresh, modern-day spin on the sound. Too often, Roses & Wine sounds like a project recorded in 1998 and not released until now.