We’ve recently displayed a small part of the extensive musical map that runs through Brazil. We know that the plurality of rhythms expands like the arms of the Amazon River. This flow is so strong that the mix between the new and the traditional becomes completely natural. There, in the pop-folk song universe, we find a generation of brilliant singer-songwriters who revive the indie scene with influences from samba, bossa nova, and MPB.
We cannot fail to mention as references Marcelo Camelo and Rodrigo Amarante, who left an indelible mark as frontmen of Los Hermanos. Another light on this path came with the film Life Aquatic (2004): since then we’ve been amazed by Seu Jorge’s deep voice, whose talent definetely goes beyond his samba reinvention of David Bowie’s songbook. We also felt the winds of Tropicália blow again, thanks to names like Sessa and Tagua Tagua. Now it’s time to add some new artists to that playlist!
“A marvel of tuning, dynamics control, refinement, instrumental performance and freedom in the elegance of the use of stage and light.” These words of praise about Tim Bernardes didn’t come from the mouth of any impromptu critic. No, it was the great Caetano Veloso who said it. This young musician from São Paulo was also praised by other Brazilian legends such as Gal Costa, Maria Bethânia, and Tom Zé, with whom he had the pleasure of collaborating. His list of friends, of course, has already crossed borders and ranges from David Byrne to Devendra Banhart, passing through Shintaro Sakamoto.
This year, Tim Bernardes toured the US with Fleet Foxes, a band he’s admired since his youth. During the trip, he even had some time to record a beautiful, stripped-back session for KEXP radio. The excuse was to present some of the songs included in Mil Coisas Invisíveis (“A Thousand Invisible Things”), his brand new second solo album, a significant step forward in his career and a musical treasure of samba, folk, chamber pop, and tropicalismo. Bernardes burst onto the indie scene with the psychedelic rock trio O Terno, but it was in 2017 with his solo debut Recomeçar that he would reach the Olympus of the MPB.
“The new Brazilian popular music is sentimental, sweet and rescues a certain optimistic tradition, a willingness to see life through a good prism,” says Rubel Brisolla when referring to this new generation of singer-songwriters of which he’s a part. A native of Rio de Janeiro, he always had a passion for music, although he first chose to study film. In fact, it was during an internship as a film student in Austin that he began writing his first songs. Rubel broke on the scene in 2013 with his debut album Pearl. But what ended up catapulting him was the song “Quando Bate Aquela Saudade”, re-released in 2015 along with a video that went viral.
In early 2018, Rubel released Casas, his second album. The record accounts for a meaningful dialogue between MPB and hip-hop, thanks to the added value of rappers Emicida and Rincon Sapiência. It appeared on the best releases of the year lists and received a Latin Grammy nomination. Since then, he has toured Europe, the US and Latin America. In the following years, he released two duet songs with female singers Anavitória (2019’s “Partilhar”) and Adriana Calcanhoto (2020’s “Você Me Pergunta”).
Cícero Rosa Lins, known simply as Cícero, took his first steps on the Rio de Janeiro scene when he was still a teenager, fronting the indie rock band Alice. But those memories are already far behind in time. More than ten years have passed since he started his solo career, as a new singer-songwriter, with 2011’s Canções de Apartamento (“Apartment Songs”), a debut album that he recorded at home and later made available for free download. With references to local legends like Tom Jobim and Braguinha, his initial songbook also included a great version of Los Hermanos’ song “Conversa de Botas Batidas”.
In 2013, Cícero released his second album, Sábado, once again produced on his own and at home, with the collaboration of Marcelo Camelo, Silva, and Mahmundi. For 2015’s A Praia, his third record, he flirts with electronic music and finds more colorful atmospheres without losing his introspective imprint. Two years later, in 2017, the singer-songwriter from Rio joined forces with the wildcard band Albatroz to release Cícero & Albatroz, with the song “A Cidade” as the main single. In 2020, Cícero released his fifth album Cosmo. And early this year, he returned to the spotlight with a beautiful song called “Sem Distância”.
Because of his last name, surely everyone assumes that Zeca Veloso is one of the sons of Caetano Veloso. Some of you may have seen him accompanying his father, along with his brothers Moreno and Tom, during the performances that shaped the 2018 live family album Ofertório. Zeca has his moment there, a hautingly and beautiful moment, sitting at the electric piano and singing with the admirable falsetto of an angel. There he sings his song “Todo Homem”. It’s the same song he performs as part of his COLORS show.
Now billed as a singer-songwriter, Zeca Veloso actually began in his teens to show some interest in electronic music. Maybe that’s why we shouldn’t be surprised to find the occasional remix of one of his songs out there. Earlier this year, Caetano’s second son released a heartfelt cover of Djavan and Orlando Morais’ “Rota do Indivíduo (Ferrugem)”. A few months later, he released another single, “O Sopro do Fole”, an emotionally charged song written by him and previously recorded by his aunt Maria Bethânia.
Another artist who stands out for her voice and her presence on stage is Liniker de Barros Ferreira Campos, simply known as Liniker. Owner of an impressive voice, clearly seduced by soul and black music, this gifted singer knew how to make a name for herself by leading the band Liniker e os Caramelows. They disbanded two years ago, but she kept going: last year she released her solo debut Indigo Borboleta Anil, including a featuring of the great Milton Nascimento. In addition, she has a profitable career as an actress.