Nancy Ames

Spiced with Brasil

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Blonde folksinger Nancy Ames no doubt seems an unlikely candidate to record an album of bossa nova classics and Latin-inspired pop covers, but think again -- not only is she the granddaughter of former Panamanian president Ricardo JoaquĆ­n Alfaro, but as Spiced with Brasil proves, she knows her way around a bubbly, sun-kissed melody as well. Arranger Stu Phillips also deserves significant credit for the album's success -- his handling of material like "Mas Que Nada" and "Meditacao" captures the spirit of the originals without relying on outright plagiarism, and his updates of American pop hits like "Cherish" and "Reach Out (I'll Be There)" deftly incorporate elements of bossa nova without swerving into novelty status.

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