Album review: Marisa Monte


Marisa Monte. (Tom Munro/Tom Munro)
March 15, 2012

Brazilian pop singer Marisa Monte has long been a leading contemporary voice of Musica Popular Brasileira, a national pop super-genre that arose in the 1960s as a response to bossa nova. She continues that legacy on “O Que Voce Quer Saber de Verdade” — her first full album in six years, which will be released Tuesday — with a collection of mostly original, largely safe tunes that neither rebuke nor substantially redefine her covetable standing in the world music arena.

One thing’s for certain: At 44, Monte’s voice remains transcendent as ever. Next to it, nearly all other instrumentation seems superfluous. Tender — at times fragile — Monte manages to emote without pushing. She glows on comparatively pared-down tracks such as the downright haunting tango “Lencinho Querido” and the fluttery “Nada Tudo,” on which her voice takes effortless flight, soaring up and down the melody.

There are misses as well, among them the bland “Depois,” a ballad with the kind of canned background instrumentation one might expect to find on a play-along backing track. Monte also privileges quantity over development; the album is overstuffed with 14 songs, and the tracks tend to be so short that there is little room to evolve the riffs and melodies at play. Even in this age of mercilessly finite attention spans, a song that clocks in at less than three minutes can be difficult to feel totally immersed in.

Still, those looking for a spring soundtrack could do far worse than this collection of fun-loving songs. Most tracks are upbeat and carry a relaxed, sunny flair, delivering to Monte’s fans the sweet voice and reliable songwriting they have come to so enjoy over the years.

Recommended tracks: “Lencinho Querido,” “Nada Tudo”


Cover art for Marisa Monte's album ‘O Que Você Quer Saber De Verdade’ (Courtesy of Blue Note Records)
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