Today’s essential download is by a beautiful Brazilian cellist, Dominique Pinto, who performs under the name Dom La Nena. Brazilian Girls, the debut album by the band of the same name is one of my favorite albums of the past decade, so I was intrigued to hear the output of an actual Brazilian girl — and a classically trained one at that. Her debut album, Ela, is a delicate, intricate flower; each petal a lovely understated melody. If Cat Power had a lost sister in the Southern Hemisphere, her name would be Dom La Nena.
As a young girl. Dom honed her craft under the guidance of Christine Walevska, an American cellist living in Buenos Aires. Years later, she performed cello on tour with French actress Jeanne Moreau and Serge Gainsbourg’s beloved Jane Birkin. After the Birkin tour wrapped in 2009, Dom set about composing the songs that would create Ela. She traveled to the south of France and recorded voice, piano and cello multitracks all by herself during a weeklong session at producer Piers Faccini’s cottage studio in the Cévennes mountains. Intrigued by the results, Faccini shaped demos into a finished album.
On “No Meu Pais,” Faccini adds an acoustic rhythm guitar to accompany Dom’s piano part, as well as an array of percussion (a chain, a shaker, a clave), electric guitars, harmonica and backing vocals. “Meu pais” normally translates to “my country,” but without a nationality attached, it becomes “myself.” The song is about Dom’s struggles to lay down roots during her constant studies, classical training and touring throughout Brazil, Europe and Argentina (the country where she picked her stage name).
To download the MP3: PC (right click/save file as) • MAC (option/click)
While you could overload your Google Translate tying to keep up with the Portuguese and Spanish lyrics on Ela, I highly suggest surrendering to the inventive arrangements and beautiful melodies. Early favorites include the cinematic “O Vento” which is either about wind or coffee, and “Batuque” a multi-tracked vocal rhythm stomp which features Brazilian composer, singer and multi-instrumentalist Kiko Dinucci, who played and arranged the entrancing percussion parts with Guilherme Kastru. On the joyous, ‘Você’, when French singer Camille joins the vocal mix, they’re like two little girls romping on the playground.
Songs from this album will play nicely in iPod mixes alongside Cat Power, the xx, the soundtracks for Henry and June and Betty Blue, Rodrigo y Gabriela and early Vanessa Paradis (who I was into way before Johnny Depp was).
Ela, the debut album by Dom La Nena, will be released in January 15, 2013 in the USA and Canada; it comes out in Europe a month later.