Music Reviews

Celso Fonseca


Six Degrees

This record is like the new guy in school who’s quiet and polite and handsome and deep and smooth and always well-dressed (but not ostentatiously so) and everyone loves him, particularly the ladeez. You want to hate him but hey, he’s a really great guy, so you just try to hang out with him and pick up some tips.

This record is an object lesson in subtlety. Brazilians swing like no one else in the world, especially in bossa nova and samba modes, both of which are in full effect here. Whether Celso Fonseca is just playing guitar and singing by himself (“Sem Resposta”) or doing smoothed-out sexy jazz (“Febre”) or getting kinda electro (“Bom Sinal,” “Teu Sorriso”), he’s a master of how to suggest more than he says, how to get attention by whispering instead of screaming, how to kick ass while kicking back.

This record is a triumph for one of my favorite musicians. Fonseca has worked with every Brazilian you’ve ever heard of (Gilberto Gil, Caetano Veloso, Jorge Ben, Marisa Monte, Gal Costa) and many you haven’t, and he’s been amazing with all of them. He was also musical director and producer on Virginia Rodrigues’ Nos, which is one of the best 20 records EVER MADE. But here he doesn’t fall down in the least. His songs are strong, whether they’re original or covers; his guitar playing is traditional but his songcraft can be quite daring; and he sings wonderfully in both Portuguese and English.

This record contains the two hottest songs I’ve heard this year. Fonseca’s duet with Cibelle on Jobim’s “Ela e Carioca” could be the new Viagra. I’m a little worked up just thinking about how their sinewy voices intertwine around the classic bossa melody and rhythm…until I get to the next one, Fonseca’s song “Slow Motion Bossa Nova,” which holds its own next to Jobim’s original. This is the highest praise I can bestow.

This record is necessary, is vital, is alive with possibility and wonder and tropical heat, is the shizz, is crush-worthy, is keeping me smiling.

Six Degrees Records:

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