Maria Rita

There's something deeply compelling about the voice and spiritual lilt of Brazilian samba singer Maria Rita. Upon first listening to her newest album, Samba Meu, you're instantly transported beyond your speakers to the nightclubs of São Paulo, where samba reigns supreme. Unlike Rita's (pronounced hee-tah) first two albums, which worked on the fringes of samba and focused more on MPB (Brazilian popular music), her latest LP dives straight into the heart of various sambas — pagode romântico, samba-canção, and a touch of bossa nova — that, at times, make the neurons in your brain start dancing a samba of their own. Songs such as "O Homem Falou" and "Maria do Socorro" are easy standouts, with Rita's alluring voice prancing atop sugary-sweet instrumentation. Although the album was created in the urban environs of São Paulo, you can't help but hear the tropical appeal that's laced throughout Samba Meu. Chances are you'll be thinking "que fucking lindo" after each track finishes. What's most impressive is that Rita still finds new ways of exploring samba as a whole, and between her orgasmic vocals and ability to draw the best of the musicians behind her, Samba Meu is a must-have for lovers of the ever-changing Brazilian beat.

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Jonathan Cunningham