Chilean influences define the latest from Luciana Souza. No stranger to ambitious musical experimentation, the Brazilian emigre with a voice like liquid copper (accented by increasingly distinct Joni Mitchell traces) has, to date, paid album-length homage to poet Elizabeth Bishop and earned back-to-back Grammy nods for her bold Brazilian Duos and North and South. Now Souza travels in a freshly outre direction with Neruda (Sunnyside), a tender salute to celebrated Central Chile poet Pablo Neruda (who, for what it's worth, shares Souza's July 12 birthday and would have turned 100 this summer).
Souza has spent much of the past two years translating 10 of Neruda's poems, placing each in a satiny setting based on Catalan composer Federico Mompou's deceptively simple Songs and Dances. The languid results, rather like being immersed in a bath of melted butterscotch, are undeniably lovely and eminently accomplished, but perhaps a bit too artily obtuse to earn widespread appeal beyond Souza diehards.