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02/02/13

Masha Campagne
Like Water, Like Air
Impetus

Five years have passed since Bay Area vocalist Masha Campagne made her recording debut, forging a simpatico alliance with pianist and arranger Weber Iago and emerging as one of the most surprising Brazilian stylists to ever navigate the Jobim and Caymmi songbooks. Surprising, that is, because Campagne is Russian by birth yet sounded straight from Ipanema, blending the wistfulness of Astrud Gilberto with the robust liquidity of Flora Purim.

A half-decade later, the sun-dappled voice is slightly richer, the bossa sensibility still predominant. While the masterful Iago is again onboard and remains the driving force, Campagne has widened her musical circle, adding Brazilian guitarist Guinga and German vibraphonist and harmonica player Hendrik Meurkens.

Jobim is represented by a shimmering “Outra Vez”; Carlos Lyra’s “Se É Tarde Me Perdoa” is provided an appropriately peppy reading; and “Invitation,” though taken at a sprightlier pace than usual, fully retains its inscrutability. Among seven original compositions, four come from Campagne, with varying results. “My Heart Was Lost & Found for You” is pedestrian romantic fare, “Mystery Unwrapped” a rather clunky ode to self-actualization, and “Broke But Rich” a bizarre yet compelling pastiche that seems a crooked roadmap toward purity of soul. Best is the sweet, contented title track. Guinga contributes the playfully meandering “No Fundo do Rio” and achingly gorgeous “Exasperada.” But top marks are reserved for Iago, whose dense, undulating “I Can See You Now” proves a deeply affecting closer.

Originally published in January/February 2013
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