Cravo E Canela Free Radical

Any ensemble that names itself after a crucial Milton Nascimento tune should justifiably turn some heads. A description of their music looks good on paper: bossa guitars, broken beats, lots of live percussion and breezy vocals. The first few songs are a winning combination of all elements, reminiscent of Da Lata at their best. However, their approach quickly wears out its welcome. As track lengths increase, it’s apparent that their method involves endless jamming on top of static grooves, with little actual songwriting at its core. Lyrics are of the "set your soul free” variety, which works fine in limited doses, but becomes irritating after a few songs. The care taken with the programmed beats holds the listener’s interest, but serves to show up the limitations of the live contributions. The live percussion playing is only average; if the rhythms were tighter and set up greater tension with the music, there would be a greater sense of direction. While these criticisms are perhaps unduly harsh, they do not become a liability until several minutes of a song have passed. Thus as long as a DJ were to mix out of any given song after three minutes, Free Radical would still benefit a longer set. The foundation exists for Cravo E Canela to make a much better disc. Next time out they should come up with some more solid, distinct ideas to build upon it. (Trigger)