Adopting her American-sounding stage name in 1935, vocal diva Leny Eversong was the epitome of South American glitz and glamour of 1940s and ’50s Brazil, known for her booming and semioperatic renditions of campy American show tunes mostly on radio and the hotel-casino circuit. Fortunately, this reissue of her 1958 Paris recording features the singer crooning her way in Portuguese in this collection of nostalgic, dramatic Brazilian pieces backed by the ensemble of pianist Paulinho, whose flowery arpeggios and cascading lines complement this extraordinarily visceral vocalist.
Like a marvelous ghost (Eversong passed away in 1981), her voice returns to haunt us on “Porque Vivemos Assim,” and completely thrills on the exhilaratingly vibrant Ary Barroso classic, “Na Baixa do Sapateiro.” If there were ever a candidate for quirky film soundtrack, this is it, in particular the tunes featuring the syrupy violin of Fafa de Lemes and the soundstage arrangements of Paulinho.
In listening to this album, it is clear that Brazilian music was ripe for the change that the bossa nova era would bring, but it sure is a fun ride. The Barclay Sessions is the perfect tribute to hopeless romantics everywhere, in particular those who long for the sounds of old in a modern world.