Although he's played a significant part in producing much of what is good in contemporary Brazilian music, Celso Fonseca is hardly a household name abroad. Natural
is his first international release and should go some way toward remedying that situation. Fonseca's production credits include the likes of Gilberto Gil
, Virginia Rodrigues
, and Daniela Mercury
and he played on Bebel Gilberto's inspired Tanto Tempo
album, which, though more club orientated, is cut from a similar cloth as Natural
It's his fifth studio album, and the first for Belgian label Ziriguiboom, champions of the "new bossa nova" which has found surprisingly few friends in Brazil. Fonseca's previous album with songwriting partner Ronaldo Bastos had fuller arrangements with strings and brass but Natural is a far more pared down affair and is all the better for it, with plenty of space for guests like pianist Daniel Jobim, grandson of the great Tom Jobim.
The material pits a sprinkling of classic bossas against Fonseca's own accomplished compositions, veering between the gentlest of sambas and bossa nova which, as he would say, is really just a kind of "slow motion samba". Fonseca's own acoustic guitar playing is understated but sublime throughout and although three tracks with English rather than Portuguese lyrics feels a little like one too many, his crooning vocals do suit the material down to the ground in either language. --Jon Lusk
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