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Album Review

It's an audacious move, putting the words of one of the 20th century's greatest poets to music. All those who are familiar with the words have their own perceptions of the images, and — on some level — a feeling of the settings they should have. With just voice, piano, and a little percussion, Souza imposes her own vision on the poems of Pablo Neruda, as she has before on the work of Elizabeth Bishop, and it can initially seem strange and take listeners by surprise, as on the relatively upbeat and busy "House." "We Are Many" is imagined as almost an art song. Translating poetry to song is difficult, especially this work, with no regular rhythm or meter, and that's reflected in the tidal shifts of "Sonnet 99." There's true adventure in "I Will Come Back," sung over only percussion, a jaunty beat that's a celebration of life, rather than a commiseration of death. On "Sonnet 49" she employs marimba, giving a stately exoticism to the music. Souza, who composed all the music, has an artist's ear and a real sense of beauty in addition to a moving voice. These aren't songs you sing along with; instead, their sometimes wandering melodies focus the ear on the lyrics, which is exactly as it should be. The closest this comes to a conventional structure is with the aching "Loneliness," which could translate into a future cabaret standard. Overall, this is obviously a project that comes from the heart and soul, a labor of love that proves that following the heart can bring forth wondrous things.

Customer Reviews

An admirable feat, yet lacking.

Setting music to one of the most beautiful wrtings in history is no easy feat, and Luciana provides us with a fresh and inspired swim into Neruda's poetry. Yet the album lacks the creative elements Luciana is known for. Perhaps if she sang it in spanish, or better yet, in her native tongue (portuguese), coupled with her distinct brazilian / soft guitar laden arrangements, would have provided us with a unique dimension, much like Bacalov's score "Il Postino", where the music captured the essence of Neruda's poetry.

a staple of my collection

I've had this CD since 2005 and I keep coming back to it. I've used it to get kids I work with interested in Poetry. I have to say "Memory" is my favorite. This CD is wonderful to play on a lazy Sunday while cleaning or reading.

My favorite Luciana Souza

This has always been my favorite album by Luciana Souza. I saw her play this set with Ed Simon at Joe's Pub in NYC several years ago and her performance of Leaning into the Afternoons still resonates with me. I recently started listening to the Catalan composer Federico Mompou and finally realized that the intro to "Memory" is one of his short piano pieces. I wish she would do more records like this rather than keep churning out the bossa nova covers.


Born: June 14, 1966 in Sao Paulo, Brazil

Genre: Jazz

Years Active: '00s, '10s

Luciana Souza's first solo album was An Answer to Your Silence (NYC Records, 1999). The Poems of Elizabeth Bishop and Other Songs (Sunnyside Records, 2000) was fifth place in The New York Times' 2000 The Year in Pop and Jazz: The Critics' Choice list. In 1991, she was elected Discovery of the Year by APCA for her work with Hermeto Pascoal. In the next year, she toured with the Zimbo Trio. In 1995, she was nominated for Outstanding Latin Act and, in the next year, Outstanding Jazz Vocalist at the...
Full Bio
Neruda, Luciana Souza
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Customer Ratings