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July 14, 2024

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Roxy Especial
Roxy Especial (Luna Records)

By: Scott D. Lewis

Sometimes, after working out, I like to stop by this little hole-in-the-wall Mexican joint (El Grillo in Portland) for a burrito. Not only are the burritos huge, tasty and cheap, but they are always playing some crazy Latin pop. It's energetic and splashy, and though my Spanish is limited to politely ordering a beer and asking for the bathroom, the message in the music is clear: Let's party. I wouldn't be at all surprised to hear Roxy Especial the next time I go there. Thankfully for this gringo, Roxy (Roxy Sosa) sings primarily in English, so I can digest the words as well as the sexy salsa-y sounds. While decidedly upbeat, footloose and fun, the baker's dozen tracks on this polished debut never go all loco and steadily maintain a sense of class and style. The lead track, "Luna," starts off all stormy and sultry with rolling horns, but then Roxy arrives with her honey-and-cinnamon voice to smooth things out. Later, the whole band joins in, playing and chanting the chorus to get the party cooking again and the two forces play off each other for the rest of the raucous ride. The following "Move With Me" is a peppy little shuffle accented with electronics and a guitar break sent straight from Santana, and the engaging track shows off Roxy's nimble cords quite nicely. "Little By Little" and the zippy "Ride" are possibly the most overtly Latin-flavored treats of the bunch, fueled by sinewy rhythms and bright horns, while "Filling Me Up" is a slice of funky '80s pop. "Do You Like?" plays as a skipping and silly confession of the virtues and values of vice while the campy and sassy "Little Miss Kitty" is a concerned with female, not feline, characteristics. There's the requisite slow-dance tune near the end but then the aptly titled "Uno Mas" closes things on another high note. By the way, if you do make it to El Grillo, don't take your grandma. To get to the bathroom, you have to pass through a door and go into the city's oldest stripclub, Mary's ... something I think Roxy and her crew would enjoy.
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