Thursday, March 14, 2013

Dom La Nena: "Ela"

When I found Dom La Nena's debut album "Ela" on my list of Amazon recommendations, I had to check it out, so I found it on Spotify and have been listening to it for the past several days. I was immediately captivated by this fascinating and engaging CD. It's acoustic, unadorned, intimate, ethereal music with influences including chamber music, folk, and cabaret. It's hard to assign a particular genre to this music, but folk-pop may be as good as any label. I guess that's part of Dom La Nena's  appeal: her music defies simple categorization because it's not really quite like anything else. 

What you hear is a voice that's delicate and almost wistful, without any affectation and beautiful in its tone and clarity. On "Ela," she is accompanied by her cello, guitars, the piano, and several other instruments, not all of them present on each song. In fact, some of the songs are so sparing in their instrumental backing that they almost give the impression of having been sung a cappella. She also has vocal collaborators on several tracks, adding to the variety and interest of the album.

The songs are mostly low-keyed and reflective, without being somber or depressing. The album is not as relentlessly upbeat or fast-paced as some Brazilian music, proving once again that the phrase "Brazilian music" means much more than the stereotypes than many North Americans associate with it. This is not samba, it's not bossa nova, it's not sertanejo, and while I suppose it's technically "MPB," its truly distinctive sound makes it unique.

I do find that I'm often reminded of two other very talented Brazilian singers when I listen to Dom La Nena: they are Tiê and Thiago Pethit, both of whom have a similar musical esthetic. In fact, Pethit sings with her on track 8 of the CD, entitled "Buenos Aires":

You can find out more about Dom La Nena and sample her music at her excellent website, which is available in Portuguese, English, and French. 

So how good is this CD? Well, it is the sort of music that's not only immediately appealing, but actually gets better with repeated listenings, which I believe makes it something of an instant classic.

The album is available as a CD from Amazon, as a digital download from Amazon and iTunes, and also on Spotify.

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