CD REVIEW: Amália Baraona - 3 Mundus

Amália Baraona - 3 Mundus
(fo(u)r. CD BE015. CD Review by Alison Bentley)

Three guitarists bring their 3 Mundus (‘3 Worlds’) to Croatian-based Portuguese singer Amália Baraona’s third album. It’s a sunny CD of lesser-known Brazilian sambas and bossa novas. On the cover she peers shyly from behind a Spanish guitar; on the recording her voice is gentle, tuneful and rhythmically strong- you can tell how much she loves the songs she grew up with in Brazil. The blending of the guitarists’ jazz, classical and folk styles sounds completely natural.

Three songs are from the 30s: two by Ary Arroso (Inquietação and Faceira.) The first expresses disillusionment with love, opening with flowing Spanish classical guitar as arco bass underpins the understated voice. (Croatian multi-instrumentalist Dinko Stipaničev plays bass on seven tracks and guitar on five, as well as other instruments.) Faceira keeps some of the original samba feel, the counter-melody of Stipaničev’s clarinet slowing the speedy delicacy of the voice. Several songs on the album were written by singer-guitarists, including Feitio de Oração (Noel Rosa/ Vadico.) It’s a ‘samba prayer’, with Macedonian guitarist Toni Kitanovski negotiating the descending jazzy chords. Albanian pianist Gent Rushi is here on accordion, adding a lovely, winsome sound to five tracks. Caymmi’s A Vizinha do Lado jumps to the 40s: a witty song about a beautifully distracting neighbour. Cross rhythms between guitars and clarinet lines create a sense of joyful lightness.

Maria Ninguém, by singer-guitarist Carlos Lyra, seems to embody the 60s; covered by Brigitte Bardot, it was reputedly Jacqueline Kennedy’s favourite tune. The melody shelves itself in the brain like a favourite book. Baraona sings with a smile over gentle accordion tremolo. Singer-guitarist Roberto Menescal guested on Baraona’s previous album. Here she sings his Errinho á Toa with a nostalgic 60s insouciance. Lyra/Moraes’ Primavera has percussive guitar rhythms and wistful accordion- it could be a theme song from a retro Audrey Tatou film. Moraes co-wrote Como Dizia o Poeta with singer/guitarist Toquinho in the 60s. Baraona’s version has old-style double-tracked vocals. Stipaničev on cavaquinho, harmonises brilliantly with the voice and Albanian Petrit Çeku’s guitar. The melancholy Villa Lobos/Bandeira song Modinha (Serasta N. 5) shows why Çeku is an award-winning classical guitarist.

Other songs are from the 70s and 80s. In Moraes/Toquinho’s Samba da Volta, Baraona eschews slushy strings in favour of harmonised gypsy-jazz tumbling scales and phrase-swapping. In O Que Será (A Flor de Pele) by Chico Buarque, Baraona’s singing is especially rhythmic, as she plays with the percussive phrase ‘que será.’ Two Jobim songs are utterly uplifting. Correnteza (‘Flow’) has a shimmering watery quality in the vocal harmonies. The track I listen out for every time is Jobim’s Luiza: the opening where Stipaničev plays the melody on arco bass over Rushi’s romantic accordion is beautifully Piazzolla-esque, and Baraona sings the precipitous melody from the heart.

These are devoted re-workings of classic Brazilian songs, beautifully-arranged, played and sung.

Alison Bentley is a singer and teaches singing. Her music is on Soundcloud

LINKS: Review of Menescantando
Review of Mulheres

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