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A night of Ranchera, Romance with Luis Miguel...
Ramiro Burr / express-news.net

With a best-selling album and his most ambitious tour ever, Mexican pop singer Luis Miguel is at the top of his game.

Luis Miguel, who plays the SBC Center on Thursday, is touring behind his ranchera roots album "México en la Piel," from late last year. There is no opening group.

"México en la Piel" is a 13-track album that showcases some of the most famous ranchera songs, such as "Un Mundo Raro," "Entrega Total," "De Que Manera Te Olvido" and "Paloma Querida."

The CD has the usual Luis Miguel trademarks: classic songs, great vocals, exquisite fidelity and excellent production. The world-renowned Mariachi Vargas de Tecalitlan accompanied him on the CD.

And apparently his legions of fans agree. They generated enough business that Luis Miguel found himself accepting awards for sales of more than 700,000 copies of the album in Mexico alone.

Capitalizing on that success, his record label reissued "México en la Piel" last month in a new luxury CD/DVD package. The new configuration includes the new songs "Por un Amor," written by Gilberto Parra; and "Mi Ciudad," written by Eduardo Carlos Salamonovitz and Guadalupe Trigo.

The DVD offers his hit videos "El Viajero," "Que seas Feliz," "Y," "La Bikina" and "La Media Vuelta."

According to record label officials, his current "México en la Piel" tour is his most extensive ever. It includes at least 40 U.S. concerts before playing 10 dates in Argentina, Chile and Uruguay. The tour will close with 17 shows in Mexico.

Like his recordings, the 35-year-old pop singer has always had high standards on his tours. His last full-fledged U.S. concert earned him the Latin tour of the year honor at the 2004 Billboard Latin Music Awards.

In an interview with Billboard, his manager, Alejandro Asensi, said the new tour "is a very special tour, a very ambitious tour, and it could be the most important in his career."

Asensi said the repertoire on this tour will focus on "México en la Piel." And while Luis Miguel has always included mariachi in his recordings and performances, "México" is his first mariachi-only record.

On this tour, the first part of the concert is focused on his pop ballads. Then his 11-piece orchestra is replaced in the second half with a full mariachi ensemble for the ranchera part of the concert.

Highlights on his 13-track "México en la Piel" include a spirited rendition of "Entrega Total," usually identified with Javier Solis. While Luis Miguel is no Vicente Fernandez, like Solis, he is able to inject enough pain and emotion to convey the feeling of complete surrender.

He describes the anguish of addiction on "De Que Manera Te Olvido." On the lovely "Paloma Querida," he convincingly details the lengths he would go to for the right person.

Jose Alfredo Jimenez has written dozens of classics and "Un Mundo Raro" is memorable for its reflection on a failed relationship. Luis Miguel is up to the task, portraying the mature and forgiving lover who advises his ex that if she should meet a new love, it's best to forget the painful past.

Other classics include "El Viajero," "Echame a mi la Culpa" and "Que Seas Feliz."

Although he established himself as a teen pop star, Luis Miguel began exploring the rich bolero genre in the early '90s. With his rising popularity, Luis Miguel began to educate a young generation about the classic bolero.

Like Harry Connick Jr. in the big-band/American pop-standard genre, Luis Miguel helped revive interest in a timeless genre.