As often happens with a martyr, Selena Quintanilla's death did not bring her message and music to an end but gave it new life. And "Dreaming of You," a CD compiled after her funeral, is a look at where she'd been and where she was headed.
As an album, it's un-reviewable. Each song is so distinct and - at times - quirky that the collection really doesn't hold together as a whole. You have to go at it song by song by song.And you quickly see just how versatile Selena was. She was also very derivative, experimental and seemed to be searching for her own center. She would be, of course. She was only 23.
From the Whitney Houston sounds of "Dreaming of You" to the Leslie Gore baby-voice on "Missing My Baby," Selena displays a wonderful suppleness in her voice and material. She tends to over-reach at times. On the two ranchera songs - "El Toro Relajo" and "Tu Solo Tu" - she is way out of her depth. Mariachi singers must be able to bounce notes off the back wall of the hall the way Maria Dolores Pradera, Lucha Villa and Linda Rondstadt do. It's a husky, gutsy music, and Selena's delicate, lyrical voice didn't fit. She comes across as a little girl dressed in a sombrero.
Still, moving through the CD, listeners will get a full dose of the range of modern Tejano music. "Techno Cumbia" is a traditional dance beat set to robotic vocals - something that might show up on the juke box in the Star Wars' bar. Her duet on "Baila Conmigo" with the last of the red-hot Talking Heads - David Byrne - sounds like a Gregorian chant for the 1990s, and "Bidi Bidi Bom Bom" is a novelty number, a Tex-Mex "Chitty Chitty Bang Bang."
Several of these songs charted as hits for the singer. Others, such as the Romeo and Juliet love-duet with the Barrio Boyzz, may even become pop classics.
But, in the end, one only comes away with admiration and sadness. "Dreaming of You" shows a singer still looking for herself. She was trying on dozens of styles trying to find her own. Given her talent and tenacity, you get the feeling that, given time, she would have found exactly what she was looking for.