World & Latin

Love Brazilian Style

12 JUN 08 JOHN C. BRUENING

Rosa Passos, long regarded as the female João Gilberto in her native Brazil, examines the many facets and dimensions of romantic love in the aptly title Telarc release, Romance.

Backed by a versatile trio of pianist Fábio Torres, bassist Paulo Paulelli and drummer Celso de Almeida, Passos spins out 12 ballads that explore the infinite mysteries of the romantic experience -- love found and lost, sexual passion, eternal devotion and more. The lyrics are almost entirely in Portuguese, but thanks to Passos' sensual vocals -- enhanced by the subtle nuances provided by her core trio, plus the occasional guitar and horns -- the vibe suggested by the title remains intact for English-only listeners.

Perhaps the most powerful tracks are the heartbreaking ones, which she saves for last. "Cadê Você" ("Where Are You") evokes a sentiment known in Portuguese as "saudade," or the sense of longing that comes when one is separated from a loved one. "Neste Mesmo Lugar" ("In This Same Place") is about love lost, as the singer remembers all the old places she would go with her former lover, but now goes alone, only to see him walk in with another woman. "Nossos Momentos" ("Our Moments") laments a love that once seemed eternal, but is now past.

As a whole, though, there's more joy in Romance than sorrow. "I want to transmit love, gentleness and tranquility to the listener," Passos explains. "I would like this CD to be enjoyed like good vintage wine -- something that will be more and more appreciated over time."