An intriguing mix of American and Brazilian influences mark the work of singer/songwriter Mónica da Silva. A native of both Grand Rapids and Belém, Brazil (and a dual citizen of both), da Silva’s aural creations are aptly described by her as “Indie Nova”: a rich blend of traditional bossa nova of idie pop.
Her latest album, Brasilissima, is a surprisingly clever release with some remarkable songwriting and an impressive breadth of styles, ranging from warm, airy pop (“In Love, Intoxicated”), to more traditional, musically interesting tracks (“Push Me Away”, “Aí Então”). Though the arrangements may be fairly conventional, da Silva’s vocals more than make up for it — not quite as dark and smoky as Carla Buzolich nor as hypnotically dreamy as Julee Cruise, instead, creating a more balanced and well-rounded sound that still manages to be distinctive.
This all might sound a bit too “World Music” for some, but don’t be put off by all the song titles in Portugese — da Silva speaks five languages and her songs rarely conclude in the same language they started in, with frequent breaks into her native Portugese or even Italian or French. These little detours add more texture and originality to the album and keep things fresh — anyone with an interest in pop, bossa nova, indie, or world music will dig this album.
The pick here is tough because of the stylistic range of the album as a whole, but “Surface” is a clear standout with some of the best vocal melodies on the disc and some beautiful atmosphere (take a listen below). Brasilissima is available now from iTunes, Amazon, and others. Also, listen closely during this year's World Cup coverage on ESPN, and you might catch a sample from this world traveler.