How do I describe at a macro level an album like Nara Leao’s “Dez Anos Depois”, I’d say this album echoes. It echoes in the aural sense, it echoes in the symbolic sense, and it echoes in the emotional sense. Recorded in 1971 in Paris, France, Nara’s masterful album of bossanova standard reinterpretations adds another chapter to the then new Brazilian renaissance.
Nara Leao before she recorded this album was already a big name in her country, she was the sambistas and bossanovas first muse. A shy girl, who at a young age was given a guitar to help her get out of her introverted shell, she was one of the first to encounter, practice, play, and sing with such greats like Carlos Lyra, Roberto Menescal, Joao, and Jobim and countless other greats that would go on to shape early Brazilian music history. As she grew older and became more rebellious with her views of the place bossanova held in culture, she started to join her forces with the Tropicalistas (going so far as contributing to their album mission statement: Tropicália: ou Panis et Circencis). From her early vantage point, whether it was through her early bossanova albums or her work as host of her own TV show, she was already fashioning protest statements against all her previous work, each work becoming increasingly more forceful. So, when Tropicalia stars, the ones she helped culture and threw her lot in, started to lose their influence by force or deterioration, she did the most rebellious act of her life until then…she left Brazil and headed to France to live the life of a mother and wife.
In France, Nara’s obvious joy in raising her new family was evident, but her homesickness kept her from truly feeling that peace she needed. The more alienated she felt, the more she would go back to rediscover the older samba and bossanova songs she had forsaken. Couple that rediscovery with all the new sounds of France that were infiltrating her mindspace: the chanson songs of Jacques Brel, Francoise Hardy, and Yves Montand or the Brazilian-influenced songs of Pierre Barrouh and Michel Legrand; something clicked in her head. With all of this in mind she saw fit to restart her recording career, she heard a new way to interpret those songs she was falling infatuated in love with again, all she needed was to some guidance. This is where Tuca, her main conspirator comes in.
Tuca, was a mysterious character, she was a Brazilian guitarist busking around France when she was discovered by Francoise Hardy. Supremely talented but very lazy with her own appearance and demeanor, very few people would hire her to do actual session work. Francoise though, saw genuine talent in her beautiful arrangements and would hire her to jumpstart her more sophisticated and newer take on Chanson, Hardy’s “La Question” was the result of their work. I’ll cover that album in the future but this album’s sound which was far more spare and used reverb/delays in an entirely different, more personal way made it sound far more ahead of its time. That was the sound Nara wanted. With Tuca aiding her, Nara and Leao, playing dueling acoustic guitars would reinterpret the power this early Brazilian music had. If you ever wanted to turn someone on to the feeling and experience that bossanova and samba could provide…this is the best album to do so. Nara’s double album, even gave her the allowance to have a second side that expanded from the spareness of the first and experimented with progressive folk arrangements. This second side with arrangements recorded in Brazil by Rogerio Duprat, Roberto Menescal, and Luis Eca added something genuinely new at times sounding like influences from Nico, or Lee Hazlewood dropping in.
If you can, pay special attention to the way Nara’s voice echoes, reverberates, and trails. Its so hard to even pick a favorite track from this album since all the songs invoke different feelings and are supremely beautiful in their own way. I liken this album a lot to William Basinski’s “Disintegration Loops”, both are works of reflected history, both amplify the implied feeling in the original music until it can overwhelm whatever your original bias against the source was. I mean listen to Nara’s reinterpretation of Tom Jobim’s “Fotografia” or Baden Powell’s “Vou Por Ai”, even I who have heard the originals, always remember the intense feeling Nara’s version plied from them. If you don’t have a deeper or growing appreciation of bossanova or samba after listening to this album, you probably won’t fully appreciate where the rest of Brazilian music will go to next (this was a monumental album in Brazil for a reason) and where it came from.
World Cup Prediction of the Day:
Colombia v. Ivory Coast: Colombia (Winner)
Uruguay v. England: England (Winner)
Japan v. Greece: Japan (Winner)
or listen to it for free at Nara’s site.
Witness Nara in action, and singing in French://www.youtube-nocookie.com/embed/videoseries?list=PLAeZhqeQV5v2GLXGq80xQg10iVu6Skntf
this is truly a treat if you’re into Brazilian music.