Sabrina Malheiros (vcl), Zé Carlos Santos (g), Leo Gandelman (sax, fl, arr), Marcelo Martins (fl), Kiko Continentino (p, Fender Rhodes), Daniel Maunick (keyb, arr), Alex Malheiros (b), Ian Moreira, Jakaré (perc)
Reference: FARO 199 CD
Bar code: 50602115034
Having made her mark on Brazil’s rich musical legacy with three best-selling albums to date, Rio’s original nu-bossa queen returns with a tour de force of golden-era Brazilian soul music. From the spiritual swing of the early pioneers of modern Samba, to the dizzying hedonism of Brazil’s eighties disco/boogie craze, Clareia is a life-affirming journey through the rich and varied sounds Sabrina Malheiros has been immersed in since she can remember. For her most up-lifting and danceable album to date, Sabrina has (as always) enlisted her father Alex Malheiros - bassist of samba jazz-funk legends Azymuth – and visionary London based producer Daniel Maunick (aka Dokta Venom), son of Incognito’s Bluey.
Sabrina Malheiros’ career has often been characterised by her place in the succession of those special Brazilian women who, with unmistakable talent and effortless grace, have encapsulated the magical energy of Brazil with their voices. “Elis Regina, Astrud Gilberto, and Joyce all had it, and Sabrina Malheiros has it in spades.” (MOJO) With her debut album Equilibria in 2005, Sabrina arrived on a wave of instant acclaim, carving out her place as the pioneering voice of a new brand of Brazilian soul music, rooted in the traditions of samba and bossa, but with an edge of contemporary electronic sophistication. Sabrina’s innovative nu-bossa sound would continue with the 2006 remix album Vibrasons followed by sophomore New Morning – declared the “best album of summer 2008”(Evening Standard), before 2011’s best-seller Dreaming.
Six years on, Sabrina returns with Clareia. “It means to clear, light, brighten or illuminate, which, after seeing Brazil and the rest of the world go through some very difficult times, is exactly what the writing of this album brought to my life.” All tracks are written by either Sabrina, or in collaboration with her father Alex Malheiros and producer Daniel Maunick. Written and recorded in Niteroi, Brazil, overlooking Gunabara Bay and Rio’s beaches, mountains and forests, the music basks in its surroundings and sings of ecological beauty, peace and sanctuary. Echoing Sabrina’s emphasis on clarity, Alex notes that “the album’s title represents an appeal to the minds of our civilization today, to clear our thoughts for good and for peace."
This pursuit of clarity continued into the studio: “It took a little longer than usual” notes Sabrina, “which was good in way, as all my previous albums were recorded in rush and we usually had a week for pre-production and another week in the studio, which always gave me the feeling that I could do better. With this album it was different… we took our time.”
Set for release at the height of summer this year, Clareia is an intergenerational masterclass of Brazil's soulful spectrum, led by a pioneering voice of today’s scene on the very top of her game. The up-lifting compositions, which take inspiration from the stunning natural beauty amongst which the album was made, and the call for the clarity of mind needed to preserve it, are enriched by this special team of some of Brazil’s most established musicians. Like the sun breaking through tropical storm-clouds, Clareia is a vessel of joy, as Sabrina puts it simply, “I hope Clareia brightens the soul of whoever listens to it. That's the spirit of this album.”
"Though Sabrina Malheiros' recording career dates back to the late 1990s, Clareia is only her fourth solo long-player, and her first in six long years. The break was the result of 13 years of intense activity. Though she'd released only three long-players during the period, there were numerous 12" singles, remixes, and featured vocal appearances with dance music producers and her father Alex Malheiros' groups Banda Utopia and Azymuth. While her previous catalog filtered breathtaking nu-bossa through jazz, hip-hop, samba, and R&B, Clareia offers a new dimension, deriving its inspiration from '80s Brazilian soul and disco, making it a perfect entry for summertime. Like its predecessor, Clareia was produced and arranged by Daniel "Venom" Maunick, son of Incognito's Bluey; he also handles the programming and synths. Two-thirds of Azymuth are present here, with Alex in the bass chair and keyboardist Kiko Continentino on piano and Rhodes. Celebrated Brazilian reed and woodwind master Leo Gandelman also lends a hand on a couple of tracks.
Malheiros wrote eight of this set's eleven tracks and co-wrote the rest. The difference in approach is evident from the go with "Celebrar." Driven by Alex Malheiros' popping bassline, its grooving funk is illustrated by syncopated acoustic piano, spiraling synth, handclaps, drums and percussion, and pulsing acoustic guitar. "Porto Do Sol" is faster and breezier as it weds samba and disco, while "Sol, Ceu e Mar" displays a slapped bassline that contrasts beautifully with atmospheric synths and Continentino's elegant jazz fills. "Renascera" is pure light, its bumping bassline and sultry Rhodes are appended by handclaps, whistles, jagged synths, programmed beats, and cooking organic percussion. Malheiros hovers above it all, and her vocals glide effortlessly through her lyrics, creating blissful resonance. The title track melds soul and samba, while "Sandore" is deep pocket nu-bossa complete with Gandelman's flute playing the role of a duet partner. (It and his sax can also be heard on the slippery samba of "Vai, Maria," complete with batacuda drumming.) Malheiros closes her set with the spacy, nu-bossa of "Ultraleve," with Alex's fuzzy bassline in the role of a lead guitar. Sabrina's multi-tracked vocals inhabit the gauzy heat of the arrangement with rimshot snares and hi-hats, synth squiggles, and Rhodes arpeggios. It's the perfect sendoff for a humid summertime album. Malheiros has expanded her palette on Clareia, but she hasn't lost her signature sound in the process; she's integrated it. This is a seamless and sensual listening experience whether taken in under the sun, under the stars, or in a club."
Thom Jurek -All Music Guide