Seu Jorge

Cru

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There is a reason that Brazilian singer/actor Seu Jorge regularly sells out live shows and attracts the likes of Bill Murray, his co-star in 2004's The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou, to performances: he not only has a charming way with acoustic renditions of classic David Bowie songs (as proved in the movie; those who missed it should check the soundtrack), he exhibits as much charm when playing his own material. Cru, which translates as "Raw," is a fine example. Not every song is original -- Jorge covers the Leiber & Stoller classic "Don't," made famous by Elvis Presley, as well as Serge Gainsbourg's "Chatterton" -- but he maintains a consistently stripped-bare sensibility throughout. Sun-baked vocals drive the sound; backed by barely-there acoustic guitar strumming and spare, casual percussion, they leave a listener to wonder how he made it through the 12-song set without getting sunburned and sand between his toes. As Jorge's lyrics and his sporadic, effective use of electronic beats make clear, though, the music aims at more than conveying a stranded-at-sea, message-in-a-bottle vibe: "Mania de Peitao," which in English means "Large Chested Mania," offers a Portuguese-language lesson on the evils of silicone breast implants, and "Eu Sou Favela" recounts, via music entirely too gorgeous for its subject matter, the grim realities of life within a Brazilian slum.

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