Album Review of

Written by Joe Ross
May 13, 2022 - 7:12pm EDT
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Based in Spain, Mirla Riomar is a Brazilian vocalist who presents her original compositions by teaming with some stellar musicians on guitar, percussion and bass. Guests further color some tracks with flute, clarinet, harmonica, accordion, trombone and cavaquinho (a small 4-stringed Brazilian guitar). The supporting cast of accompanists includes Marcel Vallés, Alan Sousa, Letieres Leite, Gabriel Grossi, Childo Tomas and Jurandir Santana. They provide interesting colorings in selections like “Iworo,” “Sem Eira Nem Beira,” “Maria do Cais,” “Pena Branca,” “Agua Rebolicada” and “Grande Orixa.” Backup vocalists embelish two tracks, “Canto do Mar” and “Mulheres da Minha Terra.”     

Riomar’s Afrobrasileira entwines the syncopated rhythms of soulful Bahia jazz, always keeping the Carnaval music inspired and danceable. For example, samba is a versatile rhythm that can assume many different forms from more quiet, delicate song sambas to more frenetic, soaring or choppy grooves.  Mirla Riomar’s songs appear to reference different stages in her life, starting with her first composition at age 13, “Zauê” that conveys her dreams, hope and optimism a better future.

African influences are everywhere in Brazil’s northeastern state of Bahia from where Riomar comes. You could say that her music is also a sensual concoction of the various sights, sounds, tastes and fragrances of a cosmopolitan place with an eclectic diversity of rhtyhms from the Caribbean, Africa and North America.  In “Agua Reboliçada,” Riomar sings about a place where river and sea meet, waters mix, dances are born, and she assumed her identity.  She also celebrates her ancestry and spirituality in “Pena Branca,” while “Grande Orixá” narrates the story of Mirla’s European travels and how the orixás and their religion provided guidance and direction.

She also embraces the continuing black activism and consciousness movement to sing about Africa, slavery, racism, abusive relationships, violence and women’s empowerment. “Canto do Mar,” “Maria do Cais,” “Sem Eira Nem Beira”and “Mulheres da Minha Terra” introduce us to female characters, their trials and bring some of those stories to the forefront.  Mirla Riomar’s beautiful voice is electrifying when singing her compositions to Bahian sounds and rhythms. (Joe Ross, Roots Music Report)