Album reviews

Amália Baraona – ‘Everyday, a Little Love’

Amália Baraona – Everyday, a Little Love

(Intek Music. Available from Bandcamp. Album review by Alison Bentley)

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Portuguese singer Amália Baraona grew up in Brazil listening to Bossa Nova. She’s put together a new album of songs mainly by Brazilian composer and pianist João Donato, who’s been part of the Bossa Nova movement since it began. He himself has contributed to this project by giving Baraona copies of his musical scores.

Baraona now lives in Croatia, and has drawn on the talents of three fine pianists from the Balkan region to arrange and play on the tunes. Vasil Hadžimanov (Serbia) has arranged four tracks. 60s’ hit Minha Saudade is co-written by Donato and João Gilberto; the piano opens with almost Balkan rhythms but soon settles into Latin grooves, with a sense of longing, to express Baraona’s delicate vocals. She sounds very natural, and has a smile in the voice here, giving everyone the space to do their thing. The piano solo is high energy, fervent against the laid back bass (Martin Gjakonovski from Macedonia) and drums (Cláudio Infante from Brazil).

Hadžimanov has also arranged Pra dizer Adeus by Edu Lobo and Torquato Neto; the melancholy slow piano suits the valedictory mood. It’s very romantic as the voice rises delicately and intensely to the high notes.

Luz da Canção (by Donato and Joyce) starts with piano colla voce; when it goes into time at speed there’s a wonderful sense of the breathy but precise voice pitched against the piano’s tremendous rhythm.

The album concludes with Donato’s irrepressible Everyday (a Little Love) (English lyrics by Norman Gimble). Baraona negotiates the difficult octave leaps nonchalantly – she communicates very effectively. The percussion is superbly subtle and there’s impassioned sax from Macedonian Kiril Kuzmanov.

Three tracks are arranged by Petar Ćulibrk (Croatia). E vamos lá (Donato/Joyce) tells of a longing to visit a romantic place, and the piano’s elegant spread chords and subtle cymbal work frame the tightly rhythmic phrases of the vocals. Entardecendo (Donato/ Marcos Valle) is very free – just soft voice and slow piano with lots of sustain pedal. Jusqu’à la fin (Até o Fim) is by Marcos Valle and Carlos Lyra (Lyra himself provided the French lyrics for the recording). Kuzmanov’s bright flute adds a more upbeat feel to the regretful lyric; the voice is nostalgic, deceptively soft, light as air.

Genti Rushi (Albania) completes the trio of pianists. He plays piano as well as accordion on Amor nas Estrelas (Donato/Lysias Enio) – it’s a love song involving joyful running and there’s constant movement in the chords and energetic bass and drums. The accordion brings in a plaintive extra texture and blends well with the vocals. E muito mais (Donato/Lysias Enio) is a euphoric love song, and Baraona uses her voice like a percussion instrument with great speed and precision – there’s a feeling of freedom and lightness. In contrast, Nunca Mais (Donato/ Marisa Monte/Arnaldo Atunes) is a ballad of longing with arching intervals and an appealing melody. Kuzmanov’s heartfelt sax really takes off.

Amália Baraona has a knack for finding lesser-known Latin songs and interpreting them sensitively with fine musicians.

LINK: Amália Baraona on Bandcamp

Artist website

LJN coverage of Amália Baraona

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