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The Life Melodic with Seu Jorge

MICHELE NORRIS, host:

From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Michele Norris.

Americans who know Seu Jorge know him mostly for his acting. He played Knockout Ned, one of the hopeful young men in the Brazilian film "City of God." Then last year in "The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou," he was the enigmatic Pele dos Santos, popping up to sing old David Bowie songs in Portuguese like a Greek chorus. But at home, he's also a famous singer and songwriter. His second CD, "Cru," sets him up for an international music career. Chris Nickson has a review.

(Soundbite of music)

CHRIS NICKSON reporting:

There's a long and often embarrassing history of actors trying their hands at music; just think of Bruce Willis and William Shatner. But Seu Jorge slides between acting and music as if they were both second nature. With "Cru," which means `raw' in Portuguese, he showcases a throaty, soulful voice in a straightforward, stripped-down style.

(Soundbite of song)

Mr. SEU JORGE: (Singing in foreign language)

NICKSON: Jorge's songs might share the influence of samba, but he refuses to bow at any musical altar, even in his choice of covers. For example, there's a growling version of "Chatterton," an ode to suicide by French singer Serge Gainsbourg. Jorge, though, treats the lyrics ironically, the sound of a man who escaped Rio's pitiless slums by hard work and sheer talent and who refuses to surrender to anything.

(Soundbite of "Chatterton")

Mr. JORGE: (Singing in foreign language)

NICKSON: At times, Seu Jorge's presentation seems offhandedly casual. Many of the arrangements feature nothing more than his singing, intimately framed by guitar or percussion. But with Jorge, less is definitely more. The instrumental parts serve to keep attention focused on Jorge's greatest asset, his remarkable voice. With "Cru," Jorge shows he is far more than an actor indulging his ego. It's the sound of a real artist at work.

(Soundbite of song)

Mr. JORGE: (Singing in foreign language)

NORRIS: The CD is "Cru" by Seu Jorge. Our reviewer is Chris Nickson.

(Soundbite of song)

Mr. JORGE: (Singing in foreign language) Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Chris Nickson
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