How we rate: our writers tend to review music they like within their preferred genres.
The late, great Elis Regina was the first major artist to record Joyce's songs, and there are some similarities in their approach: both are honest, passionate, fluid and pitch-perfect, with a minimum of vocal pyrotechnics and often the distinct sound of a smile. While delivering the sultry and sunny sambas the world has come to expect from Brazilian vocalists, Joyce also gets adventurous, transcending stylistic and cultural borders.
In line with the title of Just a Little Bit Crazy, there's a fascinating, atmospheric, subtly tounge-in-cheek tune about fears: "Os Medos" that refers to, among other things, the fear of going out and also of staying, of winning and losing, and even the fear of not having fear anymore. (Thanks to my good friend André Growald in Sao Paulo for providing translations; I wouldn't know how clever her lyrics were otherwise).
There are sprightly tunes like the title track, written to her "little bit crazy" Maluca band—which supports her beautifully—and the jaunty "Chuvisco" (Drizzle), about every kind of rain. I particularly liked "Na Paz" (In Peace), which is as serene as you'd expect, with a lovely flute solo by Teco Cardoso; his flute and Nailor Proveta's clarinet add hints of tropical birdsong to the CD. "Samba do Joyce" is a bouncy tribute to the writer James Joyce; there's also a scat-happy nod to another idol, Jim Hall ("For Hall"), and two pretty French-flavored waltzes ("L'Etang," by Pal Misraki, sung in French, and her own "Mal Em Paris").
The most stunning track on the CD is Joyce's version of the Beatles classic "A Hard Day's Night." Unlike other revivals I've heard, her interpretation is truly innovative, musically, while her slow Brazilian simmer puts new focus on the sensual intent of the song. Overall, this is very nice stuff: bright, warm, and deep, like sun streaming through the rain forest.
Track Listing: A Banda Maluca, Chuvisco, Os Medos, Na Paz, Samba do Joyce, For Hall, L'Etang, Galope, A Hard Day's Night, Cartomante, Mal Em Paris, Pause, Bitte, Tufao
Author of "The Insanity Hoax: Exposing the myth of the mad genius," Dr. J combines her love of jazz and her fascination with psychology, focusing on where they overlap: in celebrating the individual spirit.