Forro in the Dark

Light a Candle

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Sometimes a region's musical tradition is best served when its practitioners are a long way from home, feeling the pull of their roots but inevitably mixing them with the sounds of their current surroundings. Such is the case with Forro in the Dark, the band of Brazilian expats whose buzz status was ignited by their long-standing residency at New York's NuBlu, and culminated in their 2006 debut album, Bonfires of São Joao. With a somewhat re-jiggered lineup, they pick up the thread of that release with the follow-up, Light a Candle. Forro, the Northern Brazilian style from which the band takes its name, is propulsive party music, and that fact is not forgotten here; the band's two percussionists, Mauro Refosco and Davi Vieira, kick up a storm of jubilant syncopation, while Jorge Continentino's flute and Guilherme Monteiro's guitar mix straight-up forro with flickers of rock, R&B, jazz, and more. As on the last album, these N.Y.C. scene-makers are joined by some local guest stars; Brazilian Girls frontwoman Sabina Sciubba pops up to lend her lissome croon to the smoky-sounding "Silence Is Golden," which bears a bit of a European cabaret vibe, and singer/songwriter Jesse Harris sidles up to "Just Like Every Other Night," the album's most American-flavored tune, which he co-wrote with Refosco. Despite stylistic excursions like these and the reggae-tinged "Nonsensical", though, the band still shows plenty of fealty to its origins. Not only are there covers of a couple of traditional forro tunes -- Teo Azevedo's "Saudades de Manezinho Araujo" and Edmilson do Pifano's "Forro de Dois Amigos", but Monteiro composed a new instrumental tune, featuring Vieira's pifano flute, that sounds for all the world like an old-school forro classic. Seemingly, you can take the boys out of Brazil, but…well, you know the rest.

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