Flavia Coelho ‘Mundo Meu’ (Mr Bongo) 4/5

flavia-coelhoBrazil in invariably associated with the samba beat, but in the twenty-first century, as with young musicians globally, it is the fusion of traditional and external influences that holds sway. In the case of singer Flavia Coelho, reggae, rap and pop flavours all play their part, yet throughout she still manages to retain an identifiable sound and one that in influence recalls the clarity of Gal Costa and emotional fragility of Diana Ross. An album highlight and immediately infectious song is ‘People dansa’ with the legend that is Afrobeat drummer Tony Allen propelling the rhythm section and, alongside the glorious background vocals, this is a joyous number to behold. Minor chord reggae predominates throughout on this album, which is a follow-up to the well received 2012 offering’ Bossa Muffin’, and on the appealing ‘Amar e amar’ her fellow Brazilian chanteuse Céu is conjured up. In the wrong hands rap can become both derogatory and repetitive, but Coelho delivers both a witty and rapid-fire melodic monologue on ‘Hoje’ and this interestingly features the other album guest, accordionist Fixi. Likewise the singer’s gentle rap on the Afro-Latin flavoured ‘Pai de Santo’ impresses while slower-paced rap with dub effects comes into play on Espero voce’. Flavia Coelho has quietly gained invaluable live experience, opening for example for the great Gilberto Gil at a Ronnie Scott’s performance from 2013 and this new album is a clear sign of a maturing artist. She will perform at a number of dates in the east of England during May and a single performance in London on 18 May.

Tim Stenhouse