Back in 2005, when Céu released her eponymous titled debut album Céu on Opius  Music I’ve been following her career with interest. Since then, she’s released two further albums, 2009s Vagarosa and 2012s Caravana Sereia Bloom. Given just how talented a singer, songwriter and musician Céu is, I’ve always felt that she would eventually make a breakthrough into the mainstream music. It seems I was right. Last week, Céu  sang Falta De Ar from her third album Caravana Sereia Bloom, released earlier this year live on UK television. Hopefully, this will introduce many more people to the music of Céu, as her talent is deserving of a much wider audience. Now many people won’t have heard of Céu…yet. So, before I tell you about some of the tracks from her third album Caravana Sereia Bloom, I’ll tell you about Céu’s career so far.

Céu was born Maria do Céu Whitaker Pocas in Sao Paulo, Brazil, on April 1980 into a musical family. With a father who is a composer, arranger and musicologist, it wasn’t a surprise that by aged fifteen, Céu had decided to become a musician. This lead to her studying music theory and learning to play the violao, a Brazilian guitar. Quickly, Céu came to appreciate a wide range of genres of music, which would all influence her music. Latin, soul, Afro-Beat, hip-hop, R&B and  electro-jazz, all played its part in influencing the musical development of Céu. Soon, Céu was a rising star of the Brazilian music scene, performing alongside some of Brazil’s biggest artists. 

Later, she’d would spend time in New York, where a chance meeting with another Brazilian musician Antonio Pinto resulted in Antonio producing Ave Cruz, a track from her debut album Céu, released in 2005, when she was twenty-five. It reached number fifty-seven in the US Billboard 200 and reached number one in the US Billboard World Music Charts. This lead to Céu receiving a host awards, in various countries, including the US, UK, Japan, France and the Netherlands.,

It would be another four years until the release of the follow-up to Céu was released in 2009. However, two years later, in 2007, Céu released her Remixed EP,  which was only available in digital form. By this time, Céu’s reputation was rising, with her debut album charting in France, Italy, the Netherlands and Canada. It seemed Céu’s career was on the ascendancy. This was confirmed when she released her second album Vagarosa in 2009. It reached number two in the US Billboard World Music Charts and like Céu, was nominated for a Latin Grammy Award. 

Proof of Céu’s rising profile came in 2010, when she was invited to collaborate with legendary jazz artist Herbie Hancock. They recorded a version of Tempo de Amor for his 2010 album The Imagination Project. The following year, Céu was asked to collaborate with N.A.S.A. and Apollo Nove for the Red Hot Organization’s charity album. Again, this was proof that Céu’s profile and reputation was growing in stature. So what better time to record her third album, Caravana Sereia Bloom. It was released in 2012 on Six Degrees Records. On Caravana Sereia Bloom, Céu fuses a variety of genres, styles and influences. There’s everything from Latin, soul funk, rock, bossa-nova and electronic music on the thirteen tracks on Caravana Sereia Bloom and which I’ll now tell you about. 

My first choice from Céu’s third album Caravana Sereia Bloom is Falta De Ar which she performed on Later With Jools Holland. The track opens with the rhythm section and Wurlitzer organ combining. Straight away, there’s a funky vibe to the rhythm section, before Céu’s vocal enters. Her vocal is impassioned, emotive and beautiful, with rocky guitars, vibes and the rhythm section providing a backdrop. Here, Céu and her band fuse authentic Brazilian music, adding elements of rock and funk. This results in one of the album’s highlights, made all the better by Ceu’s vocal.

Amor De Antigos has a more traditional Latin sound, with Céu’s vocal having the same qualities as the previous track. Her vocal is heartfelt and sincere, while her band provide an atmospheric, shuffling backdrop. They combine traditional instruments and technology to do this. Bassist Gui Amabis is also in charge of programming, as the band use computers and drum machines. This was apparent during their performance last week. However, the rhythm section, guitars, keyboards and vibes that are key to the track’s success. Guitars that sound as if they’re weeping, combine with keyboards to produce an atmospheric, melancholy sound. This combines perfectly with Céu’s vocal, resulting in a wistful, thoughtful and quite beautiful sounding track.

Retrovisor, which was written by Céu has a quite different, more stripped down, retro sound. The track is an atmospheric soundscape, with a really, pensive, thoughtful sound. This is apparent from the opening bars when crunchy drums and Céu’s tender, impassioned vocal combine. They’re joined by waves of atmospheric organ, before retro sounding guitars enter. They wouldn’t sound out of place in a David Lynch movie enter. By then, the whole track takes on a sparse sound, which is variously compelling, haunting, atmospheric and thoughtful and shows a very different side to Céu’s music.

As Contravento opens, you immediately realize that something quite special is about to unfold. It’s the waves of music that gradually grow in drama, that tells you this. This in the result of a combination of tenor saxophone, prolonged, dramatic keyboards and Céu’s vocal. Quickly, Céu and her band reveal one of the best tracks on the album. Pounding drums, guitars and bass combine with keyboards to create a joyous, almost frenzied backdrop for Céu’s vocal. Like the previous tracks, her vocal is emotive, heartfelt and soulful. She sings from the heart, gives something of herself each song. Her band realize this, raising their game, fusing Latin, plus elements of jazz, funk and with a similar appetite, fervor and passion as Céu.

On You Won’t Regret Itm Céu delivers her vocal in English, doing so with a mixture of emotion, tenderness and sensuality. She’s accompanied by the rhythm section, guitar and rasping horns as the track opens. Backing vocalists sweep in, accompanying Céu, while keyboards and piano drift in and out. When the flugelhorn and trumpet combine to replace Céu’s vocal, they produce a sound steeped in emotion and beauty. It’s perfect for the arrangement, and a fitting replacement for Céu’s vocal which is tender, sensual and one of her best vocals on Caravana Sereia Bloom.

  Baile De Ilusão has a sound that reminds me of a sixties film soundtrack. It’s mainly the guitars which prompts this comparison. They’ve a retro sound, accompanied by the rhythm section, handclaps and keyboards. Céu’s vocal is stronger, emotive, but has real quality and beauty. As the track is driven along by the rhythm section and handclaps, a flugelhorn and tenor saxophone punctuate the arrangement. They provide just the finishing touch to a track that’s Latin in origin, but given a moderne twist, by Céu and her multitalented band. This results in a track that’s one of the catchiest, most joyous and uplifting tracks on Caravana Sereia Bloom.

The last track I’ve chosen to mention is Streets Bloom, another track where Céu delivers the vocal in English. This she does against an arrangement that’s broody, moody and atmospheric, thanks to the rhythm section and keyboards. Drums add drama to the track, while Céu’s vocal is slow and thoughtful, perfect for the lyrics, which have a similar thoughtful nature. By the end of the track, you’re left feeling melancholy and thoughtful, but satisfied at having heard such a compelling, intriguing tracks.

Caravana Sereia Bloom Céu’s third album is a compelling album which fuses a variety of styles of music. There’s everything from Latin, soul, funk, hip-hop, bossa-nova, rock and electronic within the thirteen tracks. Each of these tracks are variously impassioned, emotive, joyous, melancholy and beautiful thanks to Céu and her band. Céu is blessed with a beautiful voice, which is capable of exploring a variety of emotions, each with aplomb. However, she’s not just a singer, but a talented songwriter and musician, who co-produced Caravana Sereia Bloom. On Caravana Sereia Bloom, Céu is accompanied by a multitalented band, who produce the perfect musical backdrop for Céu’s beautiful vocal. Although Caravana Sereia Bloom is just her third album, it’s a highly mature, accomplished and polished album. It’ll appeal to anyone who loves Latin music, soul, funk or just good music. To me, Caravana Sereia Bloom is the perfect starting point for anyone wanting to discover the beautiful and stunning music of Céu. After that, they can investigate her two previous albums Céu and Vagarosa. Standout Tracks: Falta De Ar, Amor De Antigos, You Won’t Regret It and Baile De Ilusão. 



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