Imagine a spring evening, with the setting sun powdering the sky in lavender and orange, and the birds running their last errands of the day. A musky breeze sets the leaves in motion as you walk through a quiet neighborhood, letting your thoughts tumble and spin aimlessly.
This the mood that Adriana Maciel conjures over the dozen songs that make up her easy dream of an album. It's gentle bossa nova music, sung in Portuguese--the language of happy sad reveries--with tinges of gypsy folk and tango darting through it, and it's a record that's very easy to love.
I discovered Maciel during one of those myspace page link hops. She is a friend of a friend, and as soon I heard the first measures of her cover of Dori Caymmi's "Nem Eu," I was hooked. Like so many female Brazilian vocalists, she seems to sing as naturally as you or I speak. There's a kind of purity and guilelessness to her voice that reminds you of a young Astrud Gilberto, though Maciel has slightly better pitch and is much more flirtatious than Gilberto.
That coquettish flair really blossoms on the three duets she does with male counterparts Zeca Baleiro, Vitor Ramil, and Paulinho Moska. I must admit I don't know anything about these three gentlemen, but they all seem eager to dance with Adriana. "Até Nao Mais" pulses with a playful give and take that makes Maciel and Ramil's intentions perfectly clear, even if you don't understand the language.
The song selection mixes classic writers (Caymmi, Chico Buarque, Tom Zé) with newer ones (Moraes Moreira, Noel Rosa) with no seams showing. Ramiro Musottos's production is sensitive throughout, with imaginative instrumental flourishes--whistling, bandoneon, violin, e-Bow guitar--that freshen up the usual bossa palette. Every note, every choice is in support of Maciel's delicate, sensual voice.
It's difficult these days to find records that sustain one feeling over forty minutes. It's an old-fashioned idea, perhaps, but one that Adriana Maciel updates in the most alluring way.