Leonardo Marques / Flea Market Music / 180G – By Cal Gibson

Super review by Cal Gibson, of The Secret Soul Society and Scruffy Soul Recordings.

Leonardo Marques‘s fourth long player takes flight, with a nod and a wink and an accomplished swing. Serenely heading out into deeper waters following the slow burn success of his previous, much-loved Early Bird album.

Marques has the chops, the vox, and probably even the socks, to ensure that he delivers the lilting MPB goods: this is sophisticated Brasileiro business served up with depth and panache. A louche-ly seasoned alternative to the brash hyper-stylisation of so much that gets termed – loosely – ‘pop’.

There`s a warmth on show throughout the album, a dedication to the craft of songwriting. A tilt of the hat to Jorge and Caetano and Milton, of course, but cunningly updated, brushed up and brand-spanking new. The tradition is there, bedrock-steady, the iceberg beneath the waters: Marques handles the cultural tropes with insouciance and melodic gifts – the result is nine perfectly-pitched pieces of aural gold.

Personal favourites include Do Chao Ao Ceu, with its rhodes-led snap, crackle and pop: shades of Wichita Lineman in the bassline, perhaps, and there’s no higher praise than that. Melancholic, moody, swaddled in horns – it’s a late night rendering of saudade: a tale of yearning, rendered exquisitely.

Evaporou rides acoustic guitar arpeggios, stripped back percussion rumbling and tumbling, lovelorn vocals entwined in harmonious union – my Portugese isn’t up to much but who needs translation when the sentiment is so clear, obvious and worldwide? Affairs of the heart, the perennial topic, captured with soul and no little skill.

Anos Raros stays similarly rooted – slow-motion heartbreak, little in the way of a beat but plenty of emotion: hearts laid bare and delineated with the flourish of the troubadour. The worries of the world tamed and laid to rest: the musicians applying the balm, coming together to create their way into a better world.

It’s laid-back, it’s easy on the ears, but crucially it’s chock full of feeling. If you’ve been checking Sessa, or The Quiet Ones, then you’re already in, Jim. Flea Market Music is an understated gem – well worthy of investigation for the Brasileiro lovers. Another killer collection no doubt: no flies on Mr Marques, for sure!

Leonardo Marques` Flea Market Music is up for pre-order from 180G.

Veteran music scribe and producer, Cal Gibson, is also an experienced broadcaster, currently in search of a regular radio slot. If anyone has an opening, please get in touch. 

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