In her debut album, Maria Gadú, a 22-year-old singer, songwriter, and guitar player from São Paolo, offers further proof (as if any was needed) that the pool of musical talent in Brazil is indeed bottomless. Like the equally gifted Vanessa Da Mata, Gadú is part of a new generation of female singers that follows the example of Adriana Calcanhotto and Marisa Monte (arguably the most important Brazilian artist of the last '90s and 2000s) in at least two key aspects. First, in that they are actively involved in the composition of most of their material, both music and lyrics. Secondly, in that their musical quest aims for a seamless, indiscriminating blend of MPB (Musica Popular Brasileira) and pop music, often derived from a scholarly knowledge of both genres. What is most remarkable is that the end result does not sound like one or the other, but something different, new, and yet endearingly familiar. Fans of traditional or contemporary Brazilian music are in for a serious treat, as Maria Gadú brings together the best of both worlds: the breezy, longing vocals, the to-die-for melodicism, the subtly swaying rhythms, the tasteful mixture of electronic instruments and native percussion, the lyrics that casually straddle between sentiment and intellect, all rolled into real songs, not chill-out exercises. Curiously, if there is a flaw in Maria Gadú, it's in the selection of material by other songwriters. While André's Carvalho's "Tudo Diferente" and Lulu Kiari and Gugu Peixoto's "Linda Rosa" sit perfectly with Gadú's own compositions, Chico Buarque's "A História de Lili Braun" feels slightly misplaced; the umpteenth version of Jacques Brel's "Ne Me Quitte Pas" is utterly pointless, and "Baba," an acoustic rendition of the hit by Brazilian Britney Spears clone Kelly Key, is probably unworthy of a spot in this album. The material penned by Gadú, in contrast, is nothing but the revelation of a major songwriter. In this uniformly impressive lot, "Altar Particular," "Dona Cila," and "Shimbalaiê," plus the above-mentioned "Tudo Diferente," stand among the most beautiful songs released by any Brazilian artist, young or old, in 2009. Maria Gadú was recognized by the musical press as one of the records of the year, and praised by eminent colleagues such as Caetano Veloso and Milton Nascimento. If this young artist can keep the songwriting form of her debut, as well as develop an unerring eye which the truly great Brazilian female singers seem to have (in choosing collaborators and repertoire), don't be surprised if she joins the ranks in a decade or so.
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