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Maruja Muci: Tiempos Modernos

Ernest Barteldes By

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On her third self-released disc, Venezuelan singer Maruja Muci concentrates on a songwriting side (her two previous CDs were largely cover sets) that reveals strong Brazilian influences, starting with "Primavera," a modern bossa with electronic elements reminiscent of the kind often favored by Brazil's Bebel Gilberto. Muci, however, makes the sound her own with her strong delivery and sparse instrumentation that enriches her voice instead of covering it with excess. She nods to her country's musical influences on "Mantra," an effects-laden track that features superior percussion work from Alberto Vergara and Diego Alvarez Munoz.

A notable moment comes with "Algun Lugar," a gently romantic ballad that revolves around Adrian Holtz's acoustic guitar and Muci's double-tracked vocals. "Promiscua Soledad" is the most pop-inflected tune, which opens with the sound of a train, followed by electronic drums and Muci's soft rap vocals. Other tracks include "Pensiamento Libre," a tune that blends rock tendencies with Middle Eastern beats, and the Flamenco-tinged "Besos."

Tiempos Modernos closes with its sole English-language track, a cover of Europa's "The Final Countdown." Muci's down-tempo, sexy treatment could easily have appeared in a late 1970s James Bond film; consciously or not, the arrangement borrows from songs like Shirley Basseys "Moonraker" and Gladys Knight's "License To Kill."

Muci—as of 2010, yet to perform in the U.S.—sounds incredibly comfortable. The eclectic blend of traditional rhythms, jazz and pop are highly enjoyable, and Tiempos Modernos just might be the disc that breaks her into the international market.

Track Listing: Primavera;Mantra; Algun Lugar; Tiempos Modernos; Promiscua Soledad; Pensamiento Libre; Besos; Adios; Cancion de Cuna; The Final Countdown.

Personnel: Maruja Muci: vocals, arrangements; Carlos Camarasa:guitar; Adam Ross: guitar,arrangements; Kurt Uenala: bass, arrangements; Alberto Vergara, William Troconis; percussion; Adrian Holtz: drum programming; Diego Alvarez Munoz: cajon, percussion.

Title: Tiempos Modernos | Year Released: 2010 | Record Label: Self Produced

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