Music

Seu Jorge: Cru

Liam Colle

Fresh off his scene stealing performance The Life Aquatic, Seu Jorge's solo album provides more clues to his mystery.


Seu Jorge

Cru

Label: Wrasse
US Release Date: 2005-09-06
UK Release Date: 2005-02-28
iTunes affiliate
Amazon affiliate
Amazon
iTunes

Just the facts. Cru. Seu Jorge. A rebirth of cool. Brazilian street kid turned musician turned actor turns away from the clichés of world music. After rising up from the teenage homelessness thanks to his passion for samba and performance, Jorge lent his charisma to the films City of God and The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou. Yeah, Knockout Ned is the same guy who rescued Wes Anderson's artifice with an injection of genuine humanity. Seu Jorge's reinterpreted David Bowie songs impressed even more than Bill Murray's gunfight with Filipino pirates. Not an easy accomplishment. Making it all the more difficult for Jorge to eclipse that performance on his first internationally available solo album.

The strengths of this album are the same that made Jorge such an arresting enigma in Life Aquatic. His raspy vocals hover in the ether, transmuting foreign words onto native feelings. Not understanding a word of Portuguese hardly matters when those words are delivered with such gritty nuance. Whether Jorge is singing about romance or poverty or a bristleless broom, it hits straight in your gut. His production team knows it too. Gringo Da Parada places the vocals front and center on every song of the album. Every word shines in spite of their anonymity. Even when the instrumentation weakens, Jorge's voice can still arouse empathy. It's the sound of the street. That people sound, lacking system or sheen. Like Tom Waits or Tricky, it sounds like a real person, a real person with terrible talent of course.

What this album does not sound like is exotic. As it's name suggests this is raw. This is not a fetishistic distillation of one musical culture, sating the curiosity of another. Cru is Seu Jorge's album. It is not the world's album. This is personal more than cultural. That said, Seu Jorge was born and raised of a place very different than New York or Paris. He'll sing of his shantytown allegiances on a song such as "I Am Favela", but his origins don't change the universal appeal of his talent. When the White Stripes play to maniacal crowds in Rio, it's doubtful that the audience understands Jack White's tales of twisted virtue, but nonetheless it connects. And funnily enough they don't call it world music.

The world music genre distinction says a lot more about North America's xenophobic cultural capitalism than it does about the music it allegedly describes. It's silly to suggest that continental and sonic divides can be bridged merely by their non-Westernness. And just as his recapture of the Bowie canon did, Seu Jorge turns these Orientalist notions on their head with Cru. He doesn't do it with revolutionary defiance; instead he erases the novelty factor with cavalier aplomb. He covers songs Elvis Presley and Serge Gainsbourg made famous but they don't stand out of place on an album defined by its raw individualism. Jorge owns this shit.

It doesn't matter who wrote it or where, Seu Jorge brings his own style to all the songs he performs. It's refreshing to see a musician who is not intimidated by performing other people's songs and that's a credit to his talent. Ultimately, Jorge is still very much a beginner. That amaturity provides a layer of excitement to his work but it cannot overcome this album's shortcomings. While his voice could carry an advertising jingle, the lack of captivating instrumentation or memorable songwriting is a blatant sign of this artist's infancy. With its sparse arrangements and plodding tones this may be a weak album, but Jorge is anything but. His is an audacious talent that we will see and hear much more of.

6

In the wake of Malcolm Young's passing, Jesse Fink, author of The Youngs: The Brothers Who Built AC/DC, offers up his top 10 AC/DC songs, each seasoned with a dash of backstory.

In the wake of Malcolm Young's passing, Jesse Fink, author of The Youngs: The Brothers Who Built AC/DC, offers up his top 10 AC/DC songs, each seasoned with a dash of backstory.

Keep reading... Show less

Pauline Black may be called the Queen of Ska by some, but she insists she's not the only one, as Two-Tone legends the Selecter celebrate another stellar album in a career full of them.

Being commonly hailed as the "Queen" of a genre of music is no mean feat, but for Pauline Black, singer/songwriter of Two-Tone legends the Selecter and universally recognised "Queen of Ska", it is something she seems to take in her stride. "People can call you whatever they like," she tells PopMatters, "so I suppose it's better that they call you something really good!"

Keep reading... Show less

Morrison's prose is so engaging and welcoming that it's easy to miss the irreconcilable ambiguities that are set forth in her prose as ineluctable convictions.

It's a common enough gambit in science fiction. Humans come across a race of aliens that appear to be entirely alike and yet one group of said aliens subordinates the other, visiting violence upon their persons, denigrating them openly and without social or legal consequence, humiliating them at every turn. The humans inquire why certain of the aliens are subjected to such degradation when there are no discernible differences among the entire race of aliens, at least from the human point of view. The aliens then explain that the subordinated group all share some minor trait (say the left nostril is oh-so-slightly larger than the right while the "superior" group all have slightly enlarged right nostrils)—something thatm from the human vantage pointm is utterly ridiculous. This minor difference not only explains but, for the alien understanding, justifies the inequitable treatment, even the enslavement of the subordinate group. And there you have the quandary of Otherness in a nutshell.

Keep reading... Show less
3

A 1996 classic, Shawn Colvin's album of mature pop is also one of best break-up albums, comparable lyrically and musically to Joni Mitchell's Hejira and Bob Dylan's Blood on the Tracks.

When pop-folksinger Shawn Colvin released A Few Small Repairs in 1996, the music world was ripe for an album of sharp, catchy songs by a female singer-songwriter. Lilith Fair, the tour for women in the music, would gross $16 million in 1997. Colvin would be a main stage artist in all three years of the tour, playing alongside Liz Phair, Suzanne Vega, Sheryl Crow, Sarah McLachlan, Meshell Ndegeocello, Joan Osborne, Lisa Loeb, Erykah Badu, and many others. Strong female artists were not only making great music (when were they not?) but also having bold success. Alanis Morissette's Jagged Little Pill preceded Colvin's fourth recording by just 16 months.

Keep reading... Show less
9

Frank Miller locates our tragedy and warps it into his own brutal beauty.

In terms of continuity, the so-called promotion of this entry as Miller's “third" in the series is deceptively cryptic. Miller's mid-'80s limited series The Dark Knight Returns (or DKR) is a “Top 5 All-Time" graphic novel, if not easily “Top 3". His intertextual and metatextual themes resonated then as they do now, a reason this source material was “go to" for Christopher Nolan when he resurrected the franchise for Warner Bros. in the mid-00s. The sheer iconicity of DKR posits a seminal work in the artist's canon, which shares company with the likes of Sin City, 300, and an influential run on Daredevil, to name a few.

Keep reading... Show less
8
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 Popmatters.com. All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.

rating-image