It’s late on a Wednesday afternoon, and a table in the foyer of Westlake Recording Studios in West Hollywood is laden with goodies: chocolate chip cookies, hummus and chips and a bottle of Patron Silver tequila with a card that reads, “Welcome back, Shakira!”
But Shakira isn’t celebrating just yet. Her first album in four years – and first since her son, Milan (with soccer star Gerard Pique), was born in January 2013 – will be released in five weeks, and it’s not finished. Shakira sits inside a studio, ramrod straight, listening to final mixes, taking notes on a yellow legal pad and making last-minute tweaks – lower the vocals here, raise the tambourine there – even though everything is due today, no ifs, ands or buts. Her curly blond hair is tied back messily beneath a black leather cap, revealing a smooth, golden-skinned face devoid of makeup that looks far younger than her 37 years, despite the intentness of her demeanor.