Personnel: Joe Chiccarelli (didjeridu).
Director: Gustavo Santaolalla.
Photographer: Xevi Muntane.
Over the course of four albums, from 1997 to 2006, Julieta Venegas evolved from a Latin alternative favorite to an international pop star, an evolution that Realmente Lo Mejor, a 12-track compilation of her singles to date, traces chronologically. Her four albums -- Aquí (1997), Bueninvento (1999), Sí (2003), Limón y Sal (2006) -- can be grouped together roughly. The first two, Aquí and Bueninvento, are abrasive alt-rock efforts, produced by Gustavo Santaolalla and backed by the rhythm section of Café Tacuba; though both albums were certified gold in Mexico, neither spawned a charting single (each did spawn a pair of singles, however, all four of which are compiled here). The latter two, Sí and Limón y Sal, are upbeat pop albums, produced and co-written by Coti Sorokin and Cachorro López; both albums were chart-toppers in Mexico, where each racked up four international hit singles, half of them number ones, and both albums were also Grammy recipients (Best Rock Solo Vocal Album for the former; Best Alternative Music Album and Best Latin Pop Album for the latter). Realmente Lo Mejor lines up the 12 singles from these four albums in the order that they were released, from the tense rock en español of "De Mis Pasos" to the lilting pop-rap of "Primer Día." The singles flow together smoothly, and by the end of the CD, the stylistic evolution of Venegas over the years sounds perfectly natural, an artistic progression rather than a calculated crossover bid. Each of the aforementioned albums is stellar from beginning to end, so fans will want to hear them all. Realmente Lo Mejor is recommended to those who just want the singles, or who are looking for a good single-purchase summary of the Venegas catalog to date. ~ Jason Birchmeier