It is no exaggeration to say that Jenni Rivera is one of the most polarizing figures in regional Mexican music. Her hardcore fans absolutely adore her, while her detractors aren't just mildly critical of her gutsy, often in-your-face approach to banda -- they are "vehemently" critical. Is there a middle ground? Absolutely. Discussions of Rivera's work aren't necessarily confined to either total praise or total condemnation; there is room for nuance. And in fact, Rivera's recordings themselves have plenty of nuance; nuance abounds on Jenni, which marks the first time Rivera did all the producing on one of her albums. Certainly, Jenni has its share of anger; Rivera has long been known for embracing irreverent, in-your-face lyrics, and that hasn't changed. But Rivera has hardly been one-dimensional. So even though Jenni demonstrates that the Los Angeles resident can be inflammatory at times, this 44-minute CD has a range of other qualities as well. Among them: vulnerability, warmth, and compassion. Emotionally, there has been a lot of complexity in Rivera's work -- and that is another thing that hasn't changed. Nonetheless, Jenni is unlikely to win over the people who have been highly critical of Rivera in the past; folks who never acknowledged the nuance and complexity of Se Las Voy a Dar a Otro, Parrandera, Rebelde y Atrevida, or Mi Vida Loca aren't going to suddenly change their minds about Rivera after hearing this 2008 release. But the disc will easily appeal to those who have been able to comprehend and appreciate her artistry, and while Jenni isn't among Rivera's essential releases, it is still an engaging and memorable addition to her catalog.
Alex Henderson, Rovi