It is hard not to gush on about Guai (formerly known as Karol Guaitolini) and her stunning debut album Dama de Paus. It is an absolutely glorious production on the part of Nema Antunes for although the personnel list (below) is long, the average number of musicians on the disc is a sextet only one track features a large contingent of sixteen musicians because this features horns and including strings. The spotlight is firmly on Guai.
And so it should be. Guai is truly a one-of-a-kind musician who is blessed with a natural vocal ability that is nothing short of superb. Her purity of tone and discreet yet telling way with words is absolutely alluring no matter what the setting. And there is plenty of variety to crow about, from straight ahead music to folk forms as wide as from maracatu to bossa nova.
Guai generates tremendous intensity immediately on “Alquimia” and the exquisite way she floats the high-flying refrains of “Dama de Paus” is simply breathtaking. She is fine and sensual on Ary Barroso’s “Boneca de Piche” and more introverted and uses slightly darker imagery on “Rota de Colisão”. In short her vocalastics are right on the money whether she is conjuring “saudade” or “alegria” on this disc where she can do no wrong, especially on “Era uma Vez”, where she elongates the end-line syllables, taking a cue no doubt from the choral introduction to the piece and the heady chants that are interspersed throughout the piece. She is, in short, a Brasilian treasure.
The musicians – especially Mr Antunes who produces and co-directs the music together with Guai – as one might expect, are superb and marvelously insightful, playing throughout with weight as well as subtlety. But this is after all Guai’s record and her way with the material is penetratingly insightful. Her vocals shine with vibrato-less purity and a softness that mirrors the delicate emotions of each and every song; “Vitrines” is a superb example where her voice lifts and curves with ease and everything that is breathtakingly charming and sensual about Brasilian music. She even manages a wonderful Spanish rendition of “Alquimia” to close out the album.
This is a very special record from a musician who is destined for super-stardom in a very short time…
Track list – 1: Overture; 2: Alquimia; 3: Era uma Vez; 4: Dama de Paus; 5: Nega, Nêgo; 6: Boneca de Piche; 7: Vitrines; 8: Hoje; 9: Rota de Colisão; 10: Alquimia (Bônus)
Personnel – Guai: voice and musical director; Marcelo Carvalho: arrangements (1 – 3, 5), brass arrangements (5, 9) and electronic keyboard programming (1), bass (1, 4, 9), strings (1), grand piano (5, 7); Nema Antunes: bass (2, 4, 5, 6, 7) and producer; Bororó Felipe: bass (2, 8), nylon string violão (2, 8), arrangements (8) and handclaps (8); Cara de Cobra percussion (2 – 5, 7, 9); Gabi Guedes percussion (6); Renato Endrigo drums (2, 5, 7); Erivelton Silva drums (3, 4, 9); Marcio Dhiniz drums (6); Marco Brito: keyboards (2 – 5, 7, 9); Yacoce Simôes arrangements (6) and keyboards (6); Marcelo Carvalho arrangements (7), organ (7) and grand piano (7, 9); Leonardo Amuedo: guitars and nylon string violão; Jairo Reis guitar (2); steel guitar (8) and viola (8); João Castilho guitar (4, 5, 7, 9), nylon string violão (5); Filipe Guedes bass, guitar and cavaquinho (6);Marcelo Martins arrangements, flute, soprano and tenor saxophone (4); Elton Davi tenor saxophone and flute (5, 9); Eric Almeida tenor and baritone saxophone (6);Hugo Carafumim trumpet (5, 9); Rodney Machado trumpet (6); Daniel Miranda trombone (5, 9); Hugo Sanbone trombone (6); Adeilson Sodre violin (6); Bruno Smepak violin (6); Enã Deuel violin (6); Mateus Mariane violin (6); Jessica Almeida viola (6); Laércio Souza viola (6); Samuel Barreto cello (6); Vitor Silva viola (6); Renato Serra: keyboard programming (9)
Released – 2018
Label – Independent
Runtime – 40:25