Imagine trying to live up to the legacy of Jenni Rivera. There’s never been anyone like her. Her personality — commanding, ribald, sexy, romantic, hilarious — burned through every note of her music. Her songs became inseparable from the public persona she shared on TV; and her sharp business acumen, the will that drove her to succeed, became integral to hearing her. Her success in a male-dominated field added to her complexity. She made herself into an object of longing and fear to both women and men. To aspire to Rivera’s level of command was to welcome the terror of never getting there.

chiquis ahoraAt Billboard Angie Romero offers a track-by-track analysis of Chiquis Rivera‘s new album Ahora (Sony), along with an interview. Not having read Chiquis’s tell-all memoir, NorteñoBlog isn’t fully up to speed on all the difficulties of growing up with Jenni Rivera for a Mom. But I fully sympathize with the daunting task of needing to make music in her wake. “‘I don’t think that I sing like Celine Dion, but I’m not a horrible singer,’ Chiquis tells Billboard. ‘I was watching a video the other day of my mom when she was first starting. She grew into this monster onstage, she really dominated it, but it wasn’t always like that. People forget that.’” Exactly! Chiquis has a fine voice and there’s plenty to like about her songs, especially fast ones like the singles “La Malquerida” and “Completamente.” She gets into some swanky electro-pop like “Paloma Negra,” a duet with Julio Reyes that also serves as a backhanded tribute to Mom (Romero says Rivera previously dedicated the Mexican standard to Chiquis after they had a major falling out). Chiquis’s music stands in Rivera’s unavoidable shadow, but it frequently acknowledges that shadow, a Jenni hallmark: don’t try to separate life and art! And in her forward-thinking mix of banda and pop, Spanish and English, Chiquis points her own way out.