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March 2008

Clara Moreno
Meu Samba Torto
Compass Records

She’s a carioca, and Clara Moreno wouldn’t have it any other way. How could she when she’s the daughter of acclaimed vocalist/guitarist/composer Joyce and equally exalted composer Nelson Ângelo and has sung behind or beside just about every Rio giant from Milton Nascimento to Robertinho Silva? With a voice as fresh and crisp as breeze-dried linen, she is less feathery and ethereal than Astrud Gilberto and an enticing degree sandier than Bebel Gilberto. Eager to pay album-length homage to her bossa-nova heritage, on Meu Samba Torto she sidesteps the immensely popular work of Jobim, de Moraes and Bonfá in favor of less familiar material that echoes the past but also speaks to the future. (For good measure, she adds a mellifluously reflective “Tenderly” and, in tribute to Edith Piaf, a mink-lined “Mon Manège à Moi”.)

Backed by bass, percussion and guitar (with her celebrated mother lovingly handling acoustic duty on two tracks), Moreno delivers intoxicating interpretations of João de Barro and Alberto Ribeiro’s delicately lionizing “Copacabana,” Jorge Ben’s ambling “Vem Morena Vem” and her father’s roiling “Sei La.” But the proceedings don’t truly reach their apex until guitarist Celso Fonseca unites with Moreno for vocal duets on a liltingly effervescent “Litorânea” and a calfskin-supple “Moça Flor.”

Originally published in March 2008
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