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Lero-Lero

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Album Review

You could say that Luisa Maita has Brazilian music in her blood — not only was her father a noted vocalist and her mother a producer, but Maita was named after a song by the iconic Brazilian artist Antonio Carlos Jobim. Of course, none of that would mean anything if she couldn't deliver, and she does: the São Paolo native is a captivating stylist who, like Bebel Gilberto and CéU, finds inspiration not only in traditional samba and bossa nova but classic jazz vocal music, R&B, and modern electronica and dance music. Lero-Lero, Maita's debut as a solo artist, finds her striking a comfortable balance within those parameters without being enslaved by any of them. The sprightly, uptempo title track opens the album in a minimalist setting — the sleeve notes explain that it's about "two friends from the ghetto…who have each other's backs" but even without knowing the story, it's not difficult to understand that there's a positive message within. "Desencabulada," which Maita describes as a "tribute to Brazilian women," expresses that pride as a bold, melodic, post-samba joyride, while "Alivio," meaning relief, is soft, sensual, and smooth, as summery and warm a tune as can be. Maita likes to keep things uncluttered and simple — she generally uses few musicians in a given spot, keeps the acoustic instrumentation up front and the electronics subdued, and lets her voice go where it wants to go, free to be. The rhythms guide her voice, not vice-versa, and she's diverse in her choices, creating a full portrait by using different shadings throughout the work. Lero-Lero is a delight and undoubtedly a harbinger of even more satisfying music to come.

Lero-Lero, Luisa Maita
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