Music review

Music review: Brazilian singer Luisa Maita performs at Bohemian Caverns

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Saturday, November 6, 2010

Translated from Portuguese, the lyrics on Luisa Maita's debut album, "Lero-Lero," are quite earthy: "The Kid was taking some time by the fire/Smoking a joint in the alley," begins one song; "She got home late at night/wanton, almost nude," recounts another. Thursday night at Bohemian Caverns, the second stop on the Brazilian singer's first U.S. tour, the eroticism was palpable, yet not wanton. The Sao Paulo native moved her hips, which were wrapped in tight jeans, with a motion as gentle as the music -- a part-cooed, part-whispered update of samba, bossa nova and other Brazilian styles.

Like near-contemporaries such as Bebel Gilberto, Maita adds machine-made timbres to Brazilian jazz-pop's characteristic tones. But only a few synthetic beats and whooshes were heard during Thursday's 70-minute show, which owed as much to dub reggae (notably during the strutting "Lero-Lero") as to techno-lounge. The most electronic instrument was dreadlocked guitarist Rafa Moraes's "acoustic" guitar, which was wired to an intimidating battery of effects pedals. He used them not for arena-rock bombast, but to produce warm echoes and percussive, pianolike tones.

The music's peaks were left to Maita, who soared above such up-tempo numbers as "Desencabulada" (the "wanton" song) and "Anunciou" (in which life "stung" and "burned"). Yet the singer's liquid notes and airy trills were never merely showy. Perhaps it helped that she sang in a Romance language, but Maita made back-seat sex in a Chevrolet "Opala with tinted windows" sound ethereal.

-- Mark Jenkins

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