Rosa Passos, the Brazilian guitarist/vocalist known in her native country as the female incarnation of João Gilberto, makes her Telarc debut with the release of Rosa, an album that captures the essence of this extraordinary artist with nothing more than her voice and her acoustic guitar. The album—a work that is minimal yet powerful at the same time—is her first solo acoustic project since she began recording nearly three decades ago.
“I think this is the kind of work every artist should make,” says Passos. “It tells a lot about my artistic personality. I have recorded a variety of albums, but not a solo one. I realized that this was the right moment to do it. I believe I achieved my professional maturity, so this was the moment to make my solo flight.”
In keeping with this vision of a personal musical statement, Passos arranged all fifteen of the tracks on Rosa. Six of the songs are collaborations between Passos and various lyricist friends, and the remaining nine are penned by a variety of Latin songwriters, including Antônio Carlos Jobim, João Donato, Augusto Mesquita and others.
“I’m responsible for the musical part of the composing process,” says Passos. “I don’t write the lyrics. Fortunately, I can count on wonderful poets, friends of mine who share with me the same thoughts and feelings about music.”
The set opens with Passos’ unaccompanied, crystal clear voice singing “Duas Contas,” followed immediately by the brief but equally stirring Antonio Jobim/Vinicius de Morales piece, “Eu Não Existo Você.” Flowing effortlessly from these opening tracks is “Sutilezas,” a whimsical composition penned by Passos and lyricist Sérgio Naturezas.
The second half of the album gives more room to Passos’ songwriting, with the lighthearted “Demasiado Blue” (co-written with Fernando de Oliveira). Passos’ subtly complex fingerpicking here underscores a vocal line that alternates between easygoing and earnest. Likewise, “Desilusion” (co-written with Santiago Auserón) showcases vocal dynamics that evoke a range of emotions in a single track.
Passos alternates effortlessly between the high and low ends of the vocal spectrum on “Detalhe” (a second piece co-authored by Oliveira), yet never strains in either direction. But it’s her guitar work rather than her vocals that drives “Fusión,” a piece that requires rhythmically complex fretwork.
“Inverno,” the closing track co-written by Passos and Walmir Palma, is a midtempo, upbeat piece that sets vocal and guitar work in near seamless counterpoint. The occasional echo effect in the vocal track sets up a subtle chorus effect that accentuates Passos’ silky vocal style.
“We are very excited to have Rosa Passos on our label,” says Telarc’s president, Robert Woods. “Rosa is a revered figure in her native Brazil, with fans throughout the world. I love the simplicity and intimacy of this album—just voice and guitar. For me, it offers a special insight into her talent and a direct emotional connection with her music.”
Rosa is arguably the most honest and direct recording to date from this longtime Brazilian favorite—a work that strips away the distractions and captures the very heart of an artist who respects tradition yet brings a distinctive voice to it.