Samba Meu is just too polished and lacking in edge to make a real impact on the listener.
Chris White 2007
As the daughter of two Brazilian musical icons - legendary singer Elis Regina and acclaimed pianist Cezar Camargo Mariano - it’s no surprise that Maria Rita has followed in their footsteps to become one of her native land's best selling artists.
After studying at New York University and working as a journalist, Rita didn’t release her first album until the age of 24, but over a million sales worldwide for her eponymous debut and a host of Latin Grammy awards soon established her at the pinnacle of the current MPB (Música Popular Brasileira) scene.
After further success with 2005's Segundo, Samba Meu (My Samba) sees the São Paulo-born star paying tribute to the traditional music of Brazil, featuring acoustic reinterpretations of works by some of the country’s great songwriters. Backed by some impeccably tasteful musicianship and arrangements, Rita meanders politely through 13 pleasant, yet distinctly unmemorable, tracks; her note-perfect vocals never threatening to break into anything more taxing than a breezy trill.
It's difficult to be too critical of music that's performed so proficiently, but Samba Meu is just too polished and lacking in edge to make a real impact on the listener, with each composition blending seamlessly into the next with little in the way of variety. This makes selecting standout moments rather difficult, although "Cria" does fleetingly bring to mind 60s psychedelic mavericks Os Mutantes at their most serene, and the title track has a wistful intimacy largely absent elsewhere.
There’s little doubt Rita's Latin American fanbase will lap up her latest offering, but this collection of inoffensive, insubstantial ditties is unlikely to generate much enthusiasm beyond samba aficionados across a broader global audience.