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Sara Serpa: Bittersweet Dreams

Melody and mood guide the singer's latest, "All the Dreams"

Sara Serpa

Sara Serpa places “Nada” near the midpoint of All the Dreams (Sunnyside), her luminous new collaboration with guitarist André Matos. The track is their art-song interpretation of a verse by Álvaro de Campos, one of several alter egos of the great Portuguese poet Fernando Pessoa. “Não sou nada,” Serpa sings, almost in a sigh. “Nunca serei nada/Não posso querer ser nada.” The English translation: “I’m nothing/I’ll never be anything/I cannot wish to be anything.”

Then, over a slow bloom of arpeggiated chords, Serpa resolves the musical phrase with a wordless exhalation of ahhs and oohs, before turning the self-abnegation on its head. “À parte isso, tenho em mim todos os sonhos do mundo,” she clarifies: “Apart from that, I have in me all the dreams of the world.” She’s articulating someone else’s ideas-a rather famous passage, actually, the first stanza of Pessoa’s 1928 poem “Tabacaria”-but Serpa projects enough surety of purpose to deliver the sentiment, if not completely own it. All the dreams are within her, she declares, sounding ethereal but clear, and it’s hard not to take her at her word.

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