When: Fri., Aug. 1, 8:30 p.m. 2014
Though Barbara Eugenia sings mostly in Portuguese, there’s not a lot in her elegant, well-constructed pop-rock that connects it to her homeland of Brazil—at least not to bossa nova, MPB, and other familiar styles that Americans tend to equate with “Brazilian music.” But she does draw from the organ-stoked rock of the 1960s Jovem Guarda—which approximated rock sounds from the U.S., UK, and France—and from the overripe romanticism of the 70s pop-ballad style called brega. That’s not to say she’s caught in the past: she consistently transcends the sounds she experiments with, whether country music on “I Wonder” or ye-ye on “Jusqu’a la Mort.” Eugenia’s second album, E Que Temos (Oi Musica), was one of last year’s great pop pleasures for me. Its opening track, the seductive, lilting midtempo love song “Coração,” weaves twangy, vibrato-heavy electric guitar through soulful organ while Eugenia wonders languidly about the nature of love, luxuriating in her uncertainty. Many Jovem Guarda bands sounded rather trite next to the 60s pop-rock they were imitating, but Eugenia can transcend even hokey source material: on her cover of Neil Diamond’s “I Am I Said,” sung in Portuguese as “Porque Brigamos,” the heft and soul in her performance underline the song’s drama and tunefulness. More recently, she released a mostly acoustic pop record by her side project Aurora; on it she sings exclusively in English, but she demonstrates the same command of pop forms. —Peter Margasak Barbara Eugenia also plays at Elbo Room on Sun 8/3 and with Ed Motta at Mayne Stage on Tue 8/5.