J Balvin demands little introduction. The Colombian reggaeton artist, now six albums deep with the release of his latest full-length Colores, has been in the game for a decade of pop hits and has secured star status. American audiences may remember J Balvin from one of his many cuts with our beloved Bad Bunny, or his appearance on Cardi B’s “I Like It.” There’s his joint album with Bunny, Oasis, which received much fanfare, too.
Balvin’s latest, Colores, is a staunch reminder he needs no one to be a star. The album is decidedly vibrant, and, somehow, a slow burn. Production from Diplo amps up Balvin’s tempos, but for a majority of Colores, he keeps a level head as he sings his way through the rainbow. Buried in the tracklist, then, is “Gris,” a lilting cut and the standout sleeper hit of Colores.
“Gris” begins with a sauntering and snappy guitar line, over which J Balvin emotes until the pace picks up, and he begins to canter about the production. “Gris” is both breezy and nicely syncopated. Your hips sway, and your gait acquires a special spark when “Gris” comes on. I found myself playing “Gris” and dancing in my kitchen, spilling tea everywhere, and not minding the mess. I found myself skipping about, enjoying the way Balvin’s vocal bounces about while still being commanding.
“Gris” is the type of track that is engineered to be an album cut but made to be a single in hindsight. Lately, I find myself trying to apply analysis to things that simply feel good as if my words of praise will somehow elevate the music. One thing about “Gris” and Colores, is that J Balvin’s music does not need me nor my words, but I am happy to bring them. Words abound for Balvin, a master of infectious rhythms and deeply affecting grooves.
Earlier this month, Balvin took to social media to ask if he should delay the album in response to the COVID-19 outbreak. I have to say, I am grateful J Balvin chose to bring Colores into our musical world because at times like these, we could all stand for a little more color, a little something to fall in love with.