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Celso Fonseca

Apparently, the sight of the winsome, wizened Caetano Veloso sensuously purring his way through the song "Cucurrucucu Paloma" in Spanish director Pedro Almodóvar's latest film, Talk to Her, has caused a run on the Brazilian pop legend's back catalog. If perhaps you've gone to your local Record Hut and found little Caetano-licious material left on the shelves, then the latest lovely album by newcomer Celso Fonseca may help fill the gap. The singer-guitarist, who has worked with Veloso and other Brazilian stars such as Bebel Gilberto and Marisa Monte, has largely forsaken the distracting pop gloss that marked his recent work with arranger Ronaldo Bastos. In its place is sheer, unadorned bossa-nova bliss, a gorgeous acoustic balladry that matches the most gentle moments of Veloso's career or, indeed, of bossa forefathers such as João Gilberto, Baden Powell, and Vinícius De Moraes. This album is striking for its economy, grace, and rich emotional resonance; it is music so beautiful that it could cause even the rowdiest of samba fans to get a little weak in the knees. For an album both lullingly mellow and aesthetically transcendent, Natural is hard to beat.

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