Local Wire

Seu Jorge

Even if the name looks unfamiliar, chances are you remember Seu Jorge singing David Bowie covers in The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou or playing nice guy turned rebel Knockout Ned in City of God. That last movie proved a summation of his life, being reared in Brazil's favelas. Today he uses both platforms -- acting and singing -- as a chance to explore the socioeconomic disparities of his homeland. This does not limit him to soapbox stardom, however, as proven on Cru (Raw). As the title implies, the record is stripped-down samba rhythms blended with minor rock and electronic impulses. Jorge's voice is equally rough, a penetrative substance in the middle of gorgeous guitar and cavaquinho lines. Whether in the brash "Chatterton" or smooth "Tive Razão," the latter featured in City of God, Jorge meshes a studied sense of Portuguese poetry with memorable melodies (even his English cover of Elvis Presley is worthwhile). His softness is equally invasive, as the ballad "Fiore de la Citta" proves. But here, the midtempo rules: "Bem Querer," a heavy bass-led track exploring the "indescribable feeling of longing, like saudade," is the magnum opus. When Jorge strips everything to its essential root, everything grows unobstructed.
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Derek Beres