'For a lesser talent, drum & bass would have been a deep hole to dig yourself out of...
John Armstrong 2003-09-10
There's a cliche that has crept into record reviewing in the last few years. 'Joining the dots' has come to mean finding a link between two initially different-sounding genres.
In this connection, Fernanda Porto's eponymous European debut is a fine example of dot-joining- in her case, between the current craze for Brazilian drum & bass, and the more traditional forms of Brazilian song and music. Even if you're unaware of it, you'll have heard Fernanda's voice at Notting Hill Carnival for the last three years over the drum 'n' bass, and the latin sound systems. "Sambassim", as mixed by paulistadrum 'n' bass dj Patife, was the tune, a groundbreaker not just for this artist, but for Brazilian d 'n' b generally.
For a lesser talent, drum 'n' bass would have been a deep hole to dig yourself out of when the craze passes. But Porto's composing, singing, peforming and playing abilities will prove to be the JCB for any such cavity that may appear in the near future. In fact, it wouldn't be immediately apparent from this record thatd 'n' b featured anywhere in the equation,such is the skill with which Porto's classically- trained playing and producing talents combine to give us a record of uncommon grace and beauty, mixing electronically-tinged (but only tinged) sambas and bossa novas with lyrics that are often decidely non-traditional.
Helpfully, there's also an English-language lyric insert, so you can fully appreciate poet Eduardo Ruiz' achingly physical lyric to Fernanda's love song "Intimate Village"; the bitter end of an affair ("So Much Crap"); Sao Paulo's smog problem ("Somewhere Else In The World"); the beautiful Tom Jobim/Aloysius de Olivereira classic "It Could Only Have Been You" (which was recorded especially for a Brazilian television soap-opera); and, of course, that song, "Sambassim", here given a more radio-friendly, bossa-jazz feel.
This unassuming, but formidably gifted artist has already sold well in excess of 100.000 copies of Fernando Porto in Brazil. If there's any justice in the world, Fernanda Porto deserves the same success in Europe.