"Five" album cover

"Five" album cover

Photo courtesy of Prince Royce's Instagram account / Sony Music Latin

Latin singer-songwriter Prince Royce released his fifth studio album, appropriately titled FIVE, on Feb. 24. He returns to his bachata music roots on the 12-track LP while taking the genre to new places. Some moments are more traditional in sound, but it's the ones where Royce takes risks that make this his best record yet.

Since FIVE  is major milestone in his career, Royce made it an all-star event with artists from across the globe, featuring Shakira, Gerardo Ortiz, Farruko, Zendaya, Chris Brown and more. Ortiz guests on the album's shining standout, "Moneda" (English: "Coin"), where his traditional Mexican sound is blended with Royce's bachata flavor. Both guys deliver emotional performances about former flames. They commiserate beautifully on this heartbreaking ballad. The R&B-tinged "Deja Vu" with Shakira is another heart-rendering highlight as the two tend to love battle wounds. The pain from the situation powers their soaring voices.

More of the R&B influence from Royce's English-language album, 2015's Double Vision, comes through on "X" featuring Zendaya. On the slinky and sexy Spanglish track, they trade verses about hooking up with an ex. It's quite the exciting offering. Hip-hop producer Spiff TV brought Royce and Brown together for "Just As I Am," a collaboration where bachata meets club beats. Both artists dig deep and work it out on the breezy banger. On the topic of beats, Royce's sound meets reggaeton on "Ganas Locas" (English: "Mad Desire") with Farruko. The hot-and-heavy dance track flexes Royce's sensual side.

Aside from the collaborations, Royce also does bad all by himself. The 27-year-old turns up the heat on "Dilema" (English: "Dilemma"), his hypnotic ode to being romantically caught between two women. Royce's spicy lyrics convey just how real the struggle is. "Amor Prohibido" (English: "Forbidden Love") is another tempting tune. On top of the Spanish guitar, he details down-low loving with an overnight acquaintance. When Royce isn't stealing hearts through thirst traps, he's still got that puppy-dog charm down, especially on "Culpa al Corazón" (English: "Blame the Heart"), his tropical atonement for having an overly caring core. It's delightful.

Throughout the album, Royce sings, "I got that good sh*t." There are no lies detected in that statement as he pulls out all the stops to make this record a true five-star affair. FIVE celebrates Royce's maturing bachata sound while serving as a reminder of why he's always been a breath of fresh air to the genre.

AXS Rating: 5/5