Katia Moraes

Ginga

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AllMusic Review by

Having started her career in Rio de Janeiro, Kátia Moraes spent the 1990s in Los Angeles, eventually fronting a swinging, free-thinking polyglot band called Sambaguru. This is their first album together, and it will come as a pleasant surprise to those who don't know this attractive, energetic singer/songwriter and will be a confirmation for those who have caught her effusive, instantly appealing live act. Though the band has roots planted firmly in Brazilian music, there are no Brazilians in the band besides Moraes (they're from the United States, India, and Sri Lanka), and that undoubtedly fuels their desire to pick up threads of influence from everywhere. More importantly, Moraes is a fine songwriter (with talented keyboardist Bill Brendle often collaborating in the writing), and she spreads the word in a thin, clear, agile voice with crystalline Portuguese diction. While the Sergio Mendes/Brasil '66-like opening track "Pesca Das Muié" is almost a rewrite of Gilberto's Gil's "Roda" from the 1960s, the CD soon veers into the melting pot of tropicalia with battering Bahian rhythms, rap, reggae, ghostly chorus and sassy brass effects on synthesizer, heavy metal rock guitar, and trace African elements -- always applied with a light touch. The album closes on a compelling note with the revolving groove of "Gruve da Bicicieta" (or "Bicycle Groove") and a scorching message to Moraes' absent father ("Pai"), where the sweetness of her voice belies the bitterness of the lyric. If anything, this highly disciplined recording is a bit on the restrained side in comparison to the band's live show, but just a bit; the high quality of the tunes still shines through.

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