:: These reviews were originally published
:: in Daniella Thompson on Brazil.


The madonna of seduction

Ana Lee’s delicate touch
is fatally addictive.

Daniella Thompson

27 October 2003

Her voice captivates from the first note. In the vast pantheon of Brazilian divas, only Gal Costa has had a similar effect on me. Ana Lee’s voice is clear and sweet, delicate and seductive, finely tuned and enveloping all at once.

As finely tuned as the voice are the singer’s instincts in selecting her repertoire. In her debut CD, she chose not to rehash the obvious or to pander to the easy listen. Instead, Ana Lee showcases new compositions by talented contemporary paulista songwriters whose work is laced with poetry or penetrating social commentary, and whose love songs are maturely contemplative.

Such a bittersweet love song is Walter Garcia’s (he wrote the book Bim-Bom—a contradição sem conflitos de João Gilberto) “Meu Amor por Você,” in which alliterations accompany the revelation that love is one’s own invention:

[...] Esse amor que inventei de sentir, sem fingir
Mata a máscara da dor
E remove montanhas, manhas
Manias e defeitos de feitor
Não há réu sem senhor,
Só meu desejo do amor que inventei

“Meu Amor por Você” is richly arranged for flute, two guitars, viola, and cello, as if to embellish the fantasy of a love lived against one’s wishes. Also by Walter Garcia is “Jongo Tradição II,” whose simple rhythmic stanzas are accompanied by guitar, percussion, and clapping, and whose lyrics are equally uncomplicated:

[...] Na farmacia popular
Dna. Cida sabe contar
Que a avó do meu avô
Era negra amigada com Sinhô

José Miguel Wisnik’s “Se Meu Mundo Cair” is a particularly fine vehicle for Ana Lee, whose delicately soaring soprano is set off against the ponderous resonance of Célio Barros’ acoustic bass and Swami Jr.’s lyrical 7-string guitar:

[...] Se meu mundo cair
Então caia devagar
Não que eu queira assistir
Sem saber evitar

A biting note is struck with Garcia’s “’Tô Ligada, ’Tô Legal,” a rumination on the banality of disaster and the alienation of the well-informed, which the singer conveys in a suitably lazy, spoiled inflection:

[...] Vejo o esporte na fotografia
Leio a morte de milhares na Turquia
Ai, como é brutal, a sensação
De situação ideal

Lincoln Antonio and Walter Garcia’s “Deserto Para Erik Satie” is a slow waltz that bears the marks of the French composer. In this art song, the voice carries an exquisite conversation with Miguel Briamonte’s piano, André Magalhães’ percussion, and Luis Antônio Ramoska’s bassoon. The same songwriters follow with the jazzy “O Todo Abismo,” poking gentle fun at the sacred cows of bossa nova:

[...] O tempo vai
Barquinho de papel
Navega o vento e vai
Navega o vento e vai
Rolando vida abaixo, sem corrimão
Caindo feito um gato

The only standards on the album are “O Que Será [À Flor da Pele]” and “Modinha,” both of which receive fresh treatments worthy of their poetry. The former is an especially fine rendition, beginning with the singer’s angelic unaccompanied voice, later joined only by Célio Barros’ astounding bass.

Trance-inducing is the closing track, “Aplauso” (Chico César/Tata Fernandes), in which the singer weaves her spell with the assistance of Oswaldinho do Acordeon, André Magalhães on percussion, and Swami Jr. on 7-string guitar:

Uma valsa de palmas
Para a alma
De fala calma
Que abre alas
Para a alma
De aura alva
Que dança descalça
Ao som de uma salsa

Alma sem alfa
Que não sabe ser falsa
E nem fazer sala
Para alma mala sem alça

There’s no better way to describe Ana Lee’s art.

Ana Lee: Ana Lee
(Independent; 2002) 43:17 min.

Produced by André Magalhães

01. Meu Amor por Você (Walter Garcia)
02. Virtual (José Miguel Wisnik/Alice Ruiz)
03. O Que Será [À Flor da Pele] (Chico Buarque de Hollanda)
04. Jongo Tradição II (Walter Garcia)
05. Se Meu Mundo Cair (José Miguel Wisnik)
06. Concerto em Paris (Alessandro Ayudarte/Sérgio Varkala)
07. ‘Tô Ligada, ‘Tô Legal (Walter Garcia)
08. Meu Desejo (Walter Garcia)
09. Deserto Para Erik Satie (Lincoln Antonio/Walter Garcia)
10. O Todo Abismo (Lincoln Antonio/Walter Garcia)
11. Modinha (Jayme Ovalle/Manuel Bandeira)
12. Aplauso (Chico César/Tata Fernandes)


Copyright © 2003–2014 Daniella Thompson. All rights reserved.