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Title - 'CéU' (Six Degrees)
Artist - CéU

Simply put, CeU has the voice that everyone wishes Astrud Gilberto had had - sweet, sexy and pitch-perfect. She executes jazz changes that few would dare, and far fewer succeed doing. The album's arrangements are primarily modern jazz-Rio fusion, which could fly off into space were it not for the gravity of CeU's voice holding it all firmly to earth. She does a single straight-forward acoustic ballad just to say "Nyah, nyah, I don't need any of the tricks to keep you spell-bound, after all."

This is NOT background music - this is turn-up-the-stereo, down-the-lights, sit-back-on-the-couch-and-invite-the-cat-to-go-to-sleep-in-your-lap, close-your-eyes TOTAL IMMERSION music. I have never heard an album that so justified every effort the listener could make to hear, understand and appreciate, and was so rewarding of that investment.

As you progress through this wonderfulCD you feel the promise ever-broadening; you just know she's more than capable of taking her place among other Sao Paulo luminaries - the late Suba, Chico Cesar (whom she thanks),and Ana Rita Simonka. Her album has a great deal of variety - it has something for everyone or every mood. There's the Afropop of "Rainha", the Spanish flamenco of "Vinheta Dorival", the ideal road trip song "Roda" and the smooth and spirited cover version of Bob Marley's "Concrete Jungle." "Lenda" is deeply soulful,putting Joss Stone and Norah Jones to shame.

"Mais um lamento", "10 contados", and "Bobagem" are thoughtful and melancholy, showing CeU's emotional range. "Valsa pra Biu Roque" is a stately waltz. "Veu da Noite" sounds like a late night torch song in a jazz club. "Ave Cruz" is a frothy reggae song that mocks the sappiness of telenovelas. Joao Bosco (whose spicy "Vatapa" is on Putumayo's "Brasilero" compilation), composed the "A ronco da Cuica", a song fit for Carnival. The closing song, "Samba no Sola" is a joyful and vibrant song in praise of samba.

Basically, this is Album of the Year material for anyone who enjoys electro-pop, jazz, Brazilian, or funky, sexy girl singer-songwriters. Did I leave anyone out?