The music on this album is a crowning achievement of a very good year. It has been a year of fried octopus, exotic cheeses, marriage, travel, glasses of wine, late night jam sessions and hair-raising adventures swapped across the dinner table. Somewhere in the middle we managed to get some work done and these songs are the result: twelve Jose Maria originals that encapsulate his twenty-six year stay in Virginia, brought to fruition by a backup band of loyal friends only too willing to lend their talents (and their stomachs) to the enviable task of bringing Jose's vision of the world to light. His is a vision of generosity of spirit, joy of life, above all community, and many years from now, when I listen back to this album I will be reminded of two things: not only were these the best of times, but the best of times were still to come. Any day now is today.
Thomas Gunn, February 2007
Reviewed by Kyrby Raine
They call it “Portuguese blues” but Jose Maria could be world music’s answer to Bob Dylan. Most of Maria’s lyrics may be in Portuguese (the lone exception being “She Never Cries”), but his music is about as American as it gets. We’re talking roots rock with an acoustic bent, further illuminated by piano, accordion, and organ. Understanding Maria’s lyrics isn’t a problem because he has thoughtfully included their English translations on the sleeve. In fact, I prefer hearing Maria sing in his native language; there is a beauty to his phrasings that is soothing to the ears.
“Maria Faia” has sharp band interplay, and Maria’s voice is rich and powerful. His lyrics are incredibly romantic: “I’ll call you instead mirror/Where I hope one day to see my self.” Such poetic imagery is a rare find in these ironic, stream-of-consciousness days. It’s no wonder that Maria made sure the English lyrics were included; his words are so beautiful, and it’d be a shame if the song’s truly meanings were lost on the listener.
The acoustic, stark riffs of “Naquela Estrada” display Maria’s gift for playing the guitar. However, Maria’s skills aren’t about showing off technical abilities; they set moods and paint pictures that, no matter what the words are, ease the tired soul. Wonderful stuff.
Official Website: http://www.josemariaband.hi5.com
Categories: Kyrby Raine, The Kiosk (Pop/General Music), Music
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