While vocalist Fernanda Cunha
might seem to be a newcomer here in the States, Olhos de Mar
is actually her sixth release dating back to 2002.
Samba, bossa nova, the Brazilian ethos itself, including the language, all have a sensuousness which soothes life's troubles, and from this point of view, Olhos de Mar
is way too short in the best way. Cunha's lovely and emotionally subtle voice, when coupled with the simple but effective accompaniment and arrangements sweeps everything superficial away, allowing one to experience the music directly, even if one does not know Portuguese (Brazilian or otherwise).
Cunha has chosen to present songs composed by less well-known (than say, Jobim) song writers, and this was an excellent choice in that what is heard is many times pure poetry. The English-only listener can most certainly revel in the sounds
of the words and the rhythms they produce when sung. But, in the spirit of deeper understanding, Cunha sent English translations, which have been tweaked. An example will make clear the composer's poetic intent.
The title tune "Olhos de Mar" (Cristóvão Bastos/Nelson Wellington) means "Eyes of the Ocean" and is typical: Eu mergulhei
No teu olhar
Como se fosse o mar
Mar que sonhei, Em navegar
Livre como os ventos e as ondas
Ondas em vão
Vão me levar
Mas vou seguir
São os teus olhos
Que vão guiar
Como un farol no mar
Fui muito além
Ilhas em alto mar
Mares cruzei, Ao navegar
Sob um céu repleto de estrelas
Juro pensei, Não mais voltar
E ao descobir, Que todo mar
Tal qual amor, Pode secar
Volte pr te encontrar
I dove in your eyes
As if I was the sea
The sea that I dreamed of
Free as the winds and the waves
Waves in vain
Will take me
But I will follow
Because you eyes
Lead as a lighthouse on the sea
I went much beyond
I dreamed of flying to
Islands on the high seas
I crossed the ocean
Under a sky full of stars
I swear that I thought I wound not ever again come back
But when I found out that the sea can be as dry as love
I came back to find you
Of course, not all of the tracks are this beautifully intense, but quite a few are, and their cumulative effect is extremely moving.
The lyrics of two tunes, "Saudades de Você" (Longing/I Miss You) and "Pode ser que eu fique dessa vez" (Perhaps I Will Stay This Time) were written by Cunha, with music by guitarist Reg Schwager, and one, "Naquele outono" (That Autumn) was written by Cunha's mother: Oh world...
This world is so big and I am so small
I remember things and suddenly I forget them all
I think I got lost
I cannot see the stars in the sky
I just keep going
Please come, light the flame in me
Make my heart beat fast
Change the autumn into summer
My dear, make the sun come during the night
And whatever that will be,
I am a boat and you are a lighthouse
I am a fish and you are a hook
I am the rain and you are the blue
I am a mouth and you are the honey
Of special note is "Manhã Mineira" (Mornings In Minas gerais -a state in the southeast of Brazil). While the words evoke clear images and the music itself is light, Cunha uses vocal manerisms which add a touch of melancholy or consternation to the happy scenery.
Brazil is beautiful, as are its people, and Cunha's performances reach deep within all of us.
Dando De Tempo; Ohlhos De Mar; AmDor E Nada Mais; Floresta Azul; Manha
Mineira; Naquele Outono; Saudade De Voce; Verao; Misteriosa; Pode Ser Que Eu
Fique Dessa Vez
Fernanda Cunha: voice; Cristovao Bastos: piano, fender rhodes; Ze Carlos: guitar;
Edson Ghilardi: drums; Jorjao Carvalho: bass.