Friday, July 16, 2021

Rodrigo Amarante - Drama

Rodrigo Amarante is an LA-based singer songwriter of Brazilian origin. He sings in English and Portuguese and plays in a dizzying array of styles with a truly amazing sense of rhythm. Have you watched the Netflix series Narcos? That's him on the theme song. He's done other soundtrack work and several collaborations with a diverse group of artists including Norah Jones, Fab Moretti (The Strokes), Gal Costa and Gilberto Gil. I am only telling you all that so that I can use this wonderful quote from his bio, in which he stands off to the side and critiques the label's raving about him: A "bit of a general’s chest plate there but, alright." 

Read his bio, it's full of self-deprecating hilarity, all the funnier for knowing how immensely talented Rodrigo actually is. Which is why you should listen to the album while you're reading the bio. Now, all that aside, all and none of what he had done previously could prepare one for this album. It is kaleidoscopic and, if standing when listening to it, may literally make you dizzy. It's astounding. 

There is so much beauty in a song like "Tango" it's a bit overwhelming:

 That one and "I Can't Wait" which is similar in tone, sort of float, swooping and diving - a bit of a magic carpet ride. More down to earth are songs like "Tao" and "Tanto" which chug along with a gentle rhythm, a couple of guitars countering one another and a relatively quiet horn sections that come in and out, the guitar-based "Um Milhao", and the wonderful, driving "MarĂ©", which is a whole roomful of delightful polyrhythms (not to mention my favorite song of the year so far):


 The album ends, appropriately, with a bit of a lullaby, "The End" - the instrumentation is a bit muted and Amarante's vocals come to the fore in a beautiful track that, surely, some director is going to use to score a sweet farewell scene:


This is a wonderful record from beginning to end - wonderfully-played, exquisitely produced and well-sequenced. It features Amarante’s regular band, "Lucky” Paul Taylor on drums, Todd Dahlhoff on bass, Andres Renteria on congas and Amarante on guitars. It is out now on Polyvinyl Records. 

Rodrigo Amarante website 

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