...pleasant but fairly unexceptional...
Jon Lusk 2008-06-13
Though pretty much unknown in the UK, Brazilian singer and guitarist Leleo has been moving and shaking on Rio de Janeiro's music scene for around twenty years, initially with his group, Band Bel, and then in collaboration with the likes of Ivo Meirelles, Gilberto Gil, Milton Nascimento and
Marcello D2. This new project with local poet/lyricist Bernardo Vilhena is what he calls 'acid samba', as in a kind of hybrid of acid jazz and samba. Even so, though the record label might suggest otherwise, Leleo seems to be taking more of his musical cues from MPB (Música Popular Brasileira) heroes like Jorge Benjor, and also maybe something of the middle-of-the-road tendencies of Ceu Jorge.
On the rockier numbers like the opening Ela Briga Comigo, Leleo's voice has that slightly strained hoarseness that many Latin rock singers seem to adopt, and not everybody will warm to, but otherwise it's not especially distinctive. The vocal seems slightly tweaked by a vocoder on the smoother numbers like Ferias and certainly on Motoboy, a peppy pop song
about Brazilian bike messengers taking over London. Sounding tailor-made for any number of racy ad campaigns, programmer Lucas Marcier has definitely done some inventive messing with this.
Apart from the backing vocals, the odd cuica (friction drum) and some of the percussion, the samba flavour isn't particularly strong until about half-way through the disc when the coolly swinging Quem Me Salva E O Samba (Samba is My Saviour) and Sambanana appear, livening things up agreeably. But then there's the obligatory smoochy ballad in the penultimate track Santa, which glides by almost unnoticed.
At only 33 minutes, this is a pretty slim album in more ways than one, and with so many great records constantly coming out of Brazil, it's hard to see how this intermittently pleasant but fairly unexceptional one is going to stand out from the crowd.