CD review by Tony Smith
Doug de Vries has mastery of practically every style of guitar.
In this 2004 collaboration with singer Diana Clark and percussionist Denis Close, he tackles the world of Brazilian music with its complex rhythms and unusual chords.
Knowing that many listeners and would-be imitators might not have his knowledge of these specialised sub-genres, de Vries includes chord charts and some translations of key lyrics in the sleeve notes.
Diana Clark has a deep, sultry voice which would be equally stunning singing blues, but on this album, she makes the Portuguese very accessible indeed.
There is nothing forced about her style, either in terms of reaching the notes, coping with the complex rhythms or in expressing the emotion in each song.
There is English in some songs but Diana Clark makes the translations seamless.
The 16 tracks on this ‘Editions DdV’ album occupy just over an hour but transport the listener to an exotic world in a different time entirely.
‘Vera Cruz’, ‘Para ver as meninas’, ‘Wave’, ‘Manha de Carnaval’, ‘Chiclete com banana’, ‘San Vicente’, ‘Michelle’, ‘Pra que mentir?’, ‘Aguas de marco’, ‘Corcovado’, ‘Desafinado’, ‘Meditacao’, ‘Berimbau’, ‘O cio da terra’, ‘Demais ninguem’, and ‘Sonho meu’.
Casual listeners will be familiar with ‘Michelle’, adapted into the pop idiom by one ‘Paul’ and ‘Desafinado’ popular in the 1970s as ‘Slightly Out of Tune’.
The sleeve notes comment it is clear that even those who lack the melodies and rhythms are still important.
It is what is in their hearts that matters.
There are some clear political references in the songs.
‘O cio de terra’ has become the anthem of the increasingly huge population of Brazil’s landless who move to the ‘favellas’, Rio’s squalid, poverty stricken shanty towns.
It speaks of the gestation of the earth.
‘Chiclete com banana’ which suggests a nice food, is a lament and challenge to the United States which dominates Latin America while failing to understand and engage with diverse populations.
‘Corcovado’ refers to the statue of Christ, which is Rio’s most famous landmark.
‘Demais ninguem’ expresses an interesting take on disappointment and feeling blue.
“Pain belongs to the one in pain, it’s my trophy, it’s what’s been left, if I no longer have my love I have my pain”.
This might seem like small consolation to our western ears, but at least it is a personal possession.
This collaboration between Doug de Vries and Diana Clark shows yet again how talented Australian musicians are.
Even the most exotic musical forms have been brought home to our recently multicultural society.
Thanks to our musicians, we have so much diversity to enjoy.