Forro in the Dark’s Light a Candle

7 out of 10: Light-heartedness and warmth from Brazil via New York

Forró (pronounced fo-ho) is a simple, jolly and danceable musical style straight from the barnyards of the north-eastern expanses of Brazil; Forro in the Dark are a band of Brazilian expatriates living in New York who introduce jazzier, more sophisticated elements into the music style that adorns their name and forms the basis of their work.

David Byrne discovered Forro in the Dark gigging in New York, and we have him to thank yet again for bringing to prominence some splendid, little-heard music. Of course, New York should be lauded in equal measure, for the world’s largest melting pot no doubt had a lot to do with the melange of styles and instruments heard on Light a Candle, all of which make it more than just an album of forró.

The melange is best exemplified by Nonsensical, a surprisingly well-worked forró-reggae whose lyrical theme all fans of Jamaica would be sympathetic with: the singer proclaims that if you’re not into Bob Marley, then “you better stay away from me.” Even when not in English (Perro Loco is about a crazy dog), the rest of the album’s lyrics are equally lighthearted in keeping with the upbeat musical style, while the melody lines supplied by flute or saxophone on instrumentals such as Lilou, Caipirinha and Forro de Dois Amigos are a refreshing treat.

Light a Candle is a delightful summer record, perfect for the urbane dinner party where cosmopolitanism, winsomeness, conversation-starting curiosities and the possibility of a dance are always desirable. In certain quarters, such characteristics would be construed negatively as typical of the staid values of the middle classes. Damn politics and just enjoy I say, especially when an album is made as professionally as has Light a Candle.

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