Bossa nova singer, Rosa Passos can sing in any language and it will sound as lovely as a siren whispering sweet words of love in your ear. Her beauty transcends language barriers similarly to the iconic songstress Edith Piaf and South Africa’s Sathima Bea Benjamin. Passos sings in Portuguese on her latest release Romance. Produced by Passos, the arrangements on the album are orchestrated by several members of her band including acoustic bassist Paulo Paulelli, guitarist Lulo Galvao, and pianist Fabio Torres. Passos shows a distinguishable talent for making her vocals wrap around the lyrics like a satiny web. She rolls the phrases across the melodies like they are fine pieces of gold lame creating vocal imprints with flowy jacquard designs and classically versed tooling. The crystal glaze of her register has a smooth finesse relatable to lounge singer Rosie Carlino, and the luscious texture of her resonance can woo audiences at every turn. Not a tendril in the arrangement’s hairline is out of place. The harmonies are sonically impeccable with a tissuey tranquility that is traditionally bossa nova and a vibe that lifts your feet off the ground and lets you float off into a slumbering state.
Passos’ voice is beautifully braided through the melodic twines like a grapevine twisting around a wooden trellis. Her siren-esque vocal skills are shown on the two songs composed by Antonio Carlos Jobim, "Eu Sei Que Vou Te Amar" ("I Know I Will Love You") with lyrics by Vinicius de Moraes and "Por Causa De Voce" ("Because Of You") with lyrics by Dolores Duran. Jobim was instrumental in shaping the bossa nova sound sixty years ago, combining influences of postwar jazz and the subtlety of samba rhythms. Moving on, the plaintive "Tatuagem" ("Tattoo") written by Chico Buarque weaves sleek piano ducts and soft fluttering horns performed by Vinicius Dorin all pitched to Passos’ sensitive timbres. Each song has a history based on bossa nova principles with interpretations that honor the genre’s elegance and classic facing. Notably is the tender brushwork of "Altos E Baxios" ("Ups And Downs") and the crystal glow and silky micro-fibers of "Nem Eu" ("Not Me") whose lyrical phrases "Love just happens in life / You were caught off guard / And by the way / I was too," have a moonlight touch.
Like the title of Passos album Romance suggests, the songs explore the intimate and profound matters of the heart. The track "Cade Voce" ("Where Are You") has patches filled with sullen tints that Passos sews together while harvesting an uplifting vibe. She tells about this tune in a press release, "The feeling on this track is something called ‘saudade.’ It’s a unique word in the Portuguese language that suggests the sense of longing or nostalgia that comes when you miss someone you love. It can be a lover, a spouse, a parent, or a friend. It’s the universal feeling of longing for someone you care about when they are far away." Passos sings the song with a warm pathos that pampers the melodic dewdrops with a maternal sensitivity.
Born in the city of Salvador in the Brazilian State of Bahia, Passos was inspired by bossa nova’s harbingers like Joao Gilberto and Antonio Carlos Jobim. Passos is a classically trained guitarist, pianist and singer, and she brings her classic training with her on the recording of Romance. Her singing is so true that sometimes you even feel like you are listening to a jazz singer performing in 1958, when bossa nova first emerged from the nightclubs of Brazil and settled into mainstream's skin. Her singing has a timeless classic beauty that is distinguishable and always welcome on smooth jazz’s plate.