New Names in a Strong Debut
What is known as Brazilian Popular Music (MPB, música popular brasileira) is an ever-growing market. Just when one thinks the market has exhausted its influence in Brazilian music, a new name appears on the horizon. In this brand new release with vocalist Paula Mirhan and singer-songwriter-guitarist Wagner Barbosa, a new and strong addition to MPB is born.
Paula Mirhan is a native of Corumbá in the central Brazilian state of Mato Grosso do Sul. The state is well know for its beautiful and pristine Pantanal. However, Paula might as well end up changing that. Her soft-spoken singing voice is at times reminiscent of Marisa Monte’s or Nara Leão’s. Paula has been singing since age nine. Her musical career took her to São Paulo, where she eventually earned a degree in Scenic Arts at Unicamp (University of Campinas, São Paulo). From that point on, music became her life.
As for Wagner Barbosa, knowing that he was born in Curitiba, Paraná, already said it all for me. Something in the air in Curitiba must make for excellent musicians. With its strong independent music scene, Curitiba is home to Marcelo Sandmann & Benito Rodriguez, Tao do Trio, Iso Fischer and an array of poets and songwriters. As with Paula, Wagner also grew up surrounded by music. At age 10, he began studying acoustic guitar and later classic guitar. Though he obtained a degree in electrical engineering, music always called him back. He eventually got a degree in popular music from the School of Arts in Paraná, which then led him to move to São Paulo to further his musical studies and career.
Amanhecer, as the title so poetically indicates (it means dawn), is the first album of this duo. With musical direction by João Marcondes (he also plays cavaquinho, guitar and percussion), the CD brings Paula on vocals, Wagner on acoustic guitar and vocals as well as Gustavo Sato on acoustic bass and fretless, Ricardo Berti on drums and Ivan de Andrade on flutes. All nice arrangements were written by João Marcondes and Paulo Barbosa. With 11 original compositions, the album goes from Bossa Nova to Samba to Baião. The title track is a gem of a great beginning. The gorgeous slow samba features João Marcondes’ percussion on ganzá, agogô, cuíca, pandeiro and surdo and a solo by Paula. This is the kind of samba that you would expect from giants such as Paulinho da Viola! So, Wagner is off to a good start. The nice Bossa Nova “Deixa Estar” is yet another great tune, and here we are introduced to Wagner’s vocals, too. Special guest Conrado Paulino is featured on acoustic guitar on “Clichê,” a song about the end of a love affair. Paula’s vocals on this tune carry all the pain the lyrics so beautifully convey when nothing else is possible and it is time to “go away, close the door and leave the key behind.” In the baião infused “Boto,” Ivan de Andrade’s flutes are featured in the arrangement. The child-like “Móbile” brings yet another guest: André Freitas on vibes, adding that lullaby feeling to the track. As a perfect bookend pair for “Clichê,” “Volta!” seems to be the counterpart to the lyrics of the former. Here Paula sings “if you want to go away, I will not suffer.” Finally, closing this great debut album, Wagner sings solo in “Paris, Francamente.” The song has the familiar theme of a Brazilian living abroad, à la Chico Buarque/Francis Hime’s “Meu Caro Amigo” or Chico Buarque/Toquinho/Vinícius de Moraes’ “Samba de Orly, for example. It is a nice samba to end Amanhecer on a high note.
Watch Paula Mirhan and Wagner Barbosa at the Blue Note Paris singing “Amanhecer.” Unfortunately, the club sound was very loud and does not make justice to the beauty of the song and the original studio recording.
To read more about the artists and hear sample songs, please visit Paula Mirhan and Wagner Barbosa.
Paula Mirhan & Wagner Barbosa
Brasil Arte Cultural Discos BAC004 (2008)
All tracks by Wagner Barbosa, except where noted.
- Deixa Estar
- Estrela de Sal
- Escolha (Wagner Barbosa – João Marcondes)
- Volta!a (Wagner Barbosa – João Marcondes)
- Meio Samba
- Paris, Francamente