Once again recording under the guidance of Caetano Veloso, Afro-Brazilian singer Virg'nia Rodrigues explores a somewhat more complex sound on "Mares Profundos" than she has in the past. Here, she approaches a set of songs written and originally performed by Baden Powell and Vinic'us de Moraes, the "Afro-Sambas." Calling on both the organic thrust of her African lineage and the percussive melodic elements of Brazil's Portuguese culture, Rodrigues easily evokes the rich cultural blend that is Afro-Brazilian music. Though benefiting greatly from the sonic counterpoint of Luis Brasil's delicate guitar work, Rodrigues' deep, mellifluous voice needs little in the way of accompaniment. Yet, that's what Veloso saddles her with, due primarily to the compositional prescripts of the original pieces. So, we get choruses, strings, and various African percussions, which are certainly fine, but on numbers like "Bocochê," such accoutrements are ultimately distracting from the power that is Rodrigues' singing. Still, this is a rich and multi-dimensional record, and it's encouraging to find a singer of such obvious gifts striving to expand the boundaries of such a well-defined sound.
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