Local Wire

Badi Assad

While receiving high accolades for her quick-fingered guitar work, Brazil's Badi Assad is equally dangerous behind the microphone. This reigning bossa queen has been applauded heavily on the classical circuit for an innate ability to sidestep styles with mercurial lightness. With a penchant for jazz and traditional soundscapes, Verde is filled with a definitive pop essence worthy of broad attention. Assad has the patience of Jobim and catchy hooks of Marissa Monte, so she easily jumps from her native dialect to Portuguese-inflected English. The two most recognizable -- and, in their own way, unique -- tracks are covers: U2's "One," with light palmas keeping time to the succulently mournful lyrics, and Bjork's "Bachelorette." Led by a quirkily sad accordion and violins, Assad gives a tango twist to the Icelandic singer's masterpiece. Those tracks will no doubt raise an American ear, but the true depth of Verde remains in the stripped-down nakedness of her homeland's folk. The opening "Cheguei Meu Povo," led by a traditional guello percussive rhythm, serves as an invocation that leads many paths of one glorious journey. When she unclothes further, to the near-a cappella "Viola Meu Bem" -- a song, ironically, about the guitar -- you realize the masterful beauty Assad captures in 17 eclectic, fluid songs.
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Derek Beres