Classic Brazilian music is inherently eclectic, a complex stew of African, European and native styles, so even the self-conscious concoctions of such musicians as Caetano Veloso are linked to tradition. That doesn't mean every Brazilian musician should operate a mix master, however. One cautionary example is singer-guitarist Badi Assad. "Verde," her first solo album in six years, is mostly a fine showcase for her singing and playing, but some of its experiments fizzle.
Assad wrote or co-wrote only five of these 14 songs, and she searched widely for other material. The set opens with an irksomely cutesy cover, Tatiana Cobbett's "In My Little White Top," and includes an exceptionally drippy version of U2's "One," a pretty drippy song under any circumstances. Assad's tango arrangement of Bjork's "Bachelorette" is more successful, but her Bjork-ish vocalese on "The Being Between" will drive dogs from the room. Assad is more appealing when she's not trying to meld Bono and Betty Boop. "Nao Adianta," a song about "being fed up with someone," is a rakish delight, and "Viola Meu Bem" sounds complete with nothing more than a drumbeat and the voices of Assad and her niece Caroline Assad. Let other Brazilian musicians explore the universe; these successes suggest that Assad should stay close to home.
-- Mark Jenkins
Appearing Friday at the Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center.