Album Review: Pura, Luciana Oliveira (YB Music, 2013)

pura Luciana Oliveira is a Brazilian vocalist whose music is classified as Musica Popular Brasileira (MPB), which is more of a movement than a genre. Its membership is as broad as the styles it encompasses. With her sophomore album, Pura, Oliveira manages to expand MPB just enough to distinguish herself from a crowded Bossa Nova revival that surged in the 90’s.

Pura has a rawness that evokes a kind of folk music rather than the constructed coolness of recycled Bossa Nova. The production reminds me of the spartan treatment on Da Lata’s excellent debut, Songs from the Tin (Palm, 2000). The style is showcased in two very different tracks. “Condicionada” is a dissonant melody with sparse arrangements and a tribal rhythm track. It’s dark and raw, about as far as you can get from trendy ‘chill out’ collections. A brighter and beautifully playful track, “Samba em Pilet” offers a nice contrast and borders on ‘singalong.’

My favourite track, “Menina Guiné” is different yet again, this time borrowing from Oliveira’s history with reggae artists, including the Brazilian band Natiruts and dub legend Mad Professor.

With Pura, Oliveira proves that contemporary Brazilian music is more varied and substansive than the style that was “on trend” in the lounge music era. What more could we ask from a distinguished member of the MPB movement?