Flora Purim recently turned eighty years old. Amazing then, for Strut to be releasing her latest album – her first in fifteen years. Even more so when it turns out to be something of a late career classic.
Amazing but perhaps not surprising, for Flora has long been a cypher for the soul of Brazil. A golden-voiced musical angel, dispensing peace, and love, and wisdom, through the years. A celestial presence bathing the listener in otherworldly harmonies – collaborating with Airto and Chick and Jaco to unleash butterfly dreams for us all to sink into – returning forever to forever.
Nobody sounds remotely like Flora. She’s a true cosmic enchantress, touched with genius, and to hear her still creating at eighty years of age is simply a joy. Age is no barrier to such beauty. Flora is not so much raging against the dying of the light as sweetly seducing it, whispering to old father time to wait a little longer, there’s still a few more songs to sing, a little more love to share.
This is how the human condition transcends our tragedy – with chords and melodies, musical rumination, an insistence on love overcoming all. Flora Purim has been a musical touchstone for so many years, an absolute cornerstone of my own listening experience. It`s difficult to put into words really the joy that her voice has delivered time and again. This album slots right in her wonderful canon.
Nine tracks then, each one delicately hewn, sliding gently into place with expert precision. This Is Me, for example, drops a sinuous Brasileiro groove before Flora’s vocal joins the fray – lilting, yearning, the years audible, ineradicable, but essential: a voice undimmed by the passage of time. It’s powerful, affirming, magical. Eighty years young indeed.
The all-time classic, 500 Miles High, gets a revisit, and it’s great to report that the new version is vibrant – respectful, naturally, but with plenty of renewed vim and vigour: electric piano working overtime, bass-lines set to stun. Flora sounds completely in her element. A lovely drop halfway through really allowing the players to stretch out. Flora comes back in and the decades fall away. As Flora notes: love can never die.
Lucidez is a lovely way to round things up – a relaxed acoustic affair with some sparkling guitar underpinned by fretless bass swoons and Flora’s beautiful vocal once again hitting that sweet spot, subtly backed by judicious horns, thickening the musical plot.
Newspaper Girl scats its way into view, its hints and reminders of classic sambas, a wordless invitation to dance: Flora and the crew stitched tightly together, the music undulating, free-flowing, never-ending.
Flora’s daughter, Diana, is featured on the title cut, and the feeling of the mantle being passed on is unmistakeable. The Purim legacy appears to be in safe hands as this is lovely, lilting, and lyrical, swaying, playing, sunshine sounds for the coming summer months. It`s a delight amongst an album of delights, a triumph of art and beauty, and love, over the fading of the light.
Treasure this album, treasure Flora Purim, treasure life itself: all this will pass but Flora Purim is a timeless joy. We all return to forever, but when the journey is soundtracked by a voice this special, this unique, then sadness is banished and only love remains. Obrigada Flora: Thank you for the music.
Flora Purim’s incredible If You Will can be pre-ordered directly from Strut.