World Music Wednesday
Many of you may have heard Brazilian singer Seu Jorge's covers of David Bowie songs for the soundtrack to The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou. That CD is a fine introduction to his tropical acoustic sound, but I have been pleased to also discover his recent solo album Cru (Sept 2005, the title translated means "raw").
Seu Jorge is now a popular star in the Portuguese world, regularly selling out his live shows at home and abroad. But 32-year old Jorge was once a homeless kid who grew up in a favela, a Brazilian slum. He has come a long way from his hard-knock past, and worked his way up through local theater and musical opportunities until he landed a role in the critically acclaimed and wrenching 2002 movie City of God, where he played the part of Knockout Ned.
That same year he also released his first album, Carolina (2002) which had much less of the organic feel you may be familiar with, and experimented with different Afro-Brazilian funk sounds and hip-hop/dance music. Carolina was named Album of the Year in his native Brazil. Cru is his sophomore solo release, and is closer in feel to his Life Aquatic sessions - highlighting his hypnotic voice and laid-back sound. Some selections:
"Fiore De La Citta"
Jorge sings in Italian, and it is gorgeous and very mellow.
Yes, an Elvis cover. Listen to how he re-invents it! Jorge said of this track, "[Elvis] took from black music in the first place, and I was taking it back, imagining myself in cowboy boots."
A bit more uptempo, with subtle and refined electronica backing, gentle guitars, and stirring vocal chants.
Other standout tracks on the album include "Tive Razão" and (yet another) Serge Gainsbourg cover, "Chatterton" (which I just realized makes three straight weeks in a row for me of World Music Wednesdays which have included a Gainsbourg cover). Anyway, I find the breadth of his music remarkable and very enjoyable: from his choices of whose songs to reinvent, to his own explorations of samba, folksy reggae, and bossa nova, all infused with his own unique sound.
“If you had to nominate someone as the coolest man on the planet, for this week anyway, Seu Jorge would be a good candidate.”
—Peter Culshaw, The Telegraph (UK)