sun 22/05/2022

CD: Tulipa - Efêmera | reviews, news & interviews

CD: Tulipa - Efêmera

CD: Tulipa - Efêmera

Tulipa’s gently subversive Brazilian pop gets better with every listen

Judging a CD by its cover has always proved fairly reliable in my experience, but in this instance it also wouldn’t seem unreasonable. For this young Sao Paulo-born singer-songwriter did all the charmingly whimsical artwork herself and its gentle Surrealism (the featureless face that doubles as the silhouette of a tulip) does reflect the understated quirkiness of the music.

It’s easy to think of Brazil as simply the home of samba and bossa nova, but in the past few years there’s been a wealth of intelligent innovative pop and rock of many different shades reaching our shores from this part of the world. Strongly recommended is the compilation Oi! A Nova Musica Brazalieira! - which is where I first heard Tulipa. The pensive, melancholy ballad “Perdrinho” seemed to stop time and linger in the room like an exotic perfume long after the track had finished. But it is only one shade of Tulipa in a vase of multiple hues. The title track is easy-going (but not easy-listening) pop with a lightly swinging brass arrangement; “Pontual(see video below) is off-beat and savvy with a hint of the carnival about it, and so on through a coolly breezy bunch of off-kilter tunes that never reach for profundity but occasionally achieve it nonetheless.

The woman herself mentions The Beatles, Joni Mitchell, Gal Costa, and Gilberto Gil as influences, but to her credit none of these dominate.The real pleasure here is simply in the strength of the writing and playing. Chord progressions are never predictable, melodies generally take the happy scenic route, and Tulipa’s musicians (which include innovative young talents such as Kassin, Ceu and Thalma de Freitas) don’t seem capable of playing a generic line even if they wanted to. What’s so exasperating about so much UK and US pop is its stultifying predictability. Tulipa demonstrates that it’s possible to be subtly challenging while also being wholly accessible. A modest, likeable little gem.

Watch Tulipa perform “Pontual

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