World & Latin

Love, Latin Style

13 FEB 09 JOHN C. BRUENING

It's widely believed that the Latin and European cultures generally produce better lovers. Maybe it's the sensuality of their languages. Maybe it's a byproduct of the epic history that spans centuries. Or maybe it's the food. Whatever the case, if you're looking for a romantic musical backdrop this Valentine's Day, some of the best options may be from beyond our borders.

When Rosa Passos released Romance on Telarc last spring, the album title alone was a pretty good clue as to what the record would be about. Most of the tracks are sung in Portuguese, but the Brazilian vocalist's sweet and sultry vocal delivery transcends any language barriers. "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. Here in the States, we call it a hankering.

Also from the Brazilian front is "Let Me," as sung by Jill Scott on the 2006 Sergio Mendes/will.i.am collaboration Timeless. Scott's delivery is smooth, sweet and subtly suggestive -- not unlike a box of chocolates and a dozen red roses.

And if your Valentine's Day plans leave you too, uh, preoccupied to change discs, the entire soundtrack to Woody Allen's Vicky Cristina Barcelona offers a pretty high romantic quotient from front to back (pick any two characters in this movie, and they're likely to be in the sack together at least once before the final credits roll). Registering especially high on the amor meter is "Your Shining Eyes," the acoustic guitar ballad from the Biel Ballester Trio.

in this playlist.