Maria Rita

Maria Rita

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Maria Rita Review

by Jason Birchmeier

Distant from the mass-market mentality of the United States pop music industry in more ways than one, the MPB field has been and continues to be ripe with beautiful and lively music, with Maria Rita's debut album standing tall as an exemplary document of the sort of music blossoming in America's other hemisphere. This beautiful and beautiful-sounding young lady is the daughter of one of Brazil's most (if not the most) legendary vocalists, the late Elis Regina, and if that alone weren't enough to make her a star-in-waiting, her father is César Camargo Mariano, one of the country's top arrangers, producers, and pianists, and her namesake is Rita Lee, yet another MPB legend. Add to that a close musical partnership with Milton Nascimento, who pens "A Festa," the ear-grabbing opening track of her album, and you can see why the MPB world was eagerly awaiting her recording debut. And what an album it is, from beginning to end a joyful listening experience with no low points whatsoever and a pair of absolutely astonishing high points, the aforementioned "A Festa" and the mid-album standout "Cara Valente." These two party-starters highlight what is otherwise a collection of delicate songs of varying tempo, all of them distinct in numerous ways. What each song shares, however, is a purely acoustic, slightly jazzy musical backing and also a lyrical performance by Rita, who possesses a tender voice not unlike that of her mother as well as an emotive delivery that accentuates her vocals with a rich sense of humanity. Moreover, Rita's voice benefits from pristine production courtesy of Tom Capone, one of Brazil's finest. Like Bebel Gilberto's Tanto Tempo solo debut from a few years prior, Maria Rita is the sort of masterpiece that has all the makings of a crossover success, the sort of album that is likely to be a great many listeners' first experience with popular Brazilian music, and deservedly so. [Originally released by Warner Music Brasil in late 2003, Maria Rita was repackaged for stateside release in 2004. The U.S. edition includes international-minded back-cover blurbs from critics touting the album: "To understand what Maria Rita means to the Brazilian musical market, think Norah Jones," for instance. This edition also is enhanced, including a delightful video for "Cara Valente" and links to Rita's website, where additional tracks were available for download.]

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