Karrin Allyson has sung Brazilian tunes before, notably on 1999's From Paris to Rio, but this time she's dedicated an entire album to the swaying rhythms of bossa nova and samba, and she's never sounded lovelier. Allyson has always been a gifted interpreter, and while her material in the past has drawn from any number of sources, her prime focus here is on the music of Antonio Carlos Jobim. While choosing oft-covered tunes like "Desafinado" and "A Felicidade" may not be the riskiest thing Allyson could have done, nor the most original, she is so clearly in love with these compositions that she's easily forgiven for adding her name to the list of artists who have lent their voices to them. Allyson's vocal instrument is somewhat coarser and more world-weary than the majority of singers who gravitate toward Jobim's material, and here she favors stripped-down arrangements that accentuate the vulnerabilities and lived-in qualities of that voice. It works to great effect, as on "Double Rainbow," a ballad that begins sparsely, Allyson singing in Portuguese before switching over to English, a tactic she employs throughout much of the record. Accompanying herself on piano, Allyson phrases Gene Lees' Tin Pan Alley-esque lyrics, a meditation on the wonders of nature, carefully and thoughtfully, before handing the tune over to bassist David Finck, who turns in a solo that's creative but not showy. Not all of the songs here come courtesy of Jobim, and Allyson does equal justice to the moody "Pra Dizer Adeus" (Time to Say Goodbye), co-penned by Edú Lobo, Torquato Neto, and Chris Caswell, and the closing "É Com Esse Que Eu Vou," by Pedro Caetano, which pushes the beat somewhat harder than the more ballad-oriented music that populates most of the record. But in the end it's those Jobim songs that stick: Steve Nelson's vibes and marimba work lends a sensuality to "O Morro Não Tem Vez (Favela)," by Jobim and Vinícius de Moraes, and Gil Goldstein's accordion injects a bit of France into the Brazilian mood on the title track. Through it all, Karrin Allyson reminds listeners why she has consistently received praise over the years for her inherent ability to make any song her own.
AllMusic Review by Jeff Tamarkin