RIYL: Jeff Buckley, Portishead, Elliot Smith
Today, we reach across the gulf and into Brazil for our newest offering.
Hailing from Rio de Janeiro, French-Brazilian artist Jan Felipe has a lot to say. Whether that’s in English, French, or Portuguese, Felipe’s songwriting is poignant. According to his Bandcamp page, he records all of his songs alone, on his computer with a basic setup. Since his first record Abril, Felipe has played guitar, bass, and virtual instruments to make his music.
His melancholic pop sensibilities are influenced by a wide variety of artists spanning many genres. From the pointed indie rock sounds of Elliot Smith, to the Trip-hop heavy Portishead, Felipe uses an amalgam of sounds to express himself. This comes through on this, his most recent record, Circular. Comprised of ten songs, the album does not feel overloaded with filler. Instead, we get a well-curated record that ebbs and flows like Guanabara Bay.
As the album builds, each song shows a flair of Felipe’s influences, paired with the frailty of his voice. While less powerful than a Jeff Buckley, Felipe’s voice carries a frailty akin to that of Elliot Smith. The whole record is reminiscent of both. Further, there is a sense of exposure throughout the record. It sounds like we are outside the room while Felipe nurses a cup of tea, and croons to himself absentmindedly.
While there are a bevy of comparisons to be made between Felipe and his contemporaries, Circular is a fresh, relaxing pop record. Tracks like “Mundo Oceano,” “Corporate War,” and “Beliza” are instant favorites. In addition, Felipe’s duet with Anna Carolina Naylor is an enjoyable arrangement akin to something we might have heard from Serge Gainsbourg and Jane Birkin. While Felipe’s vocal range is much different than Gainsbourg, the pairing of their two voices is remarkable.
If you’re looking for a relaxing Monday, Felipe’s Circular should be on your listening list. There are bright moments, times of intense introspection, and a songwriting quality sparsely seen in a lot of contemporary pop music. ¡Viva Brazil!