Freedom of Movement: New Album from Nina Miranda

The timing for the release of the new album from Nina Miranda couldn’t have been better. The theme couldn’t have been more current. Freedom of Movement is a celebration of new connections, open doors and bridges in contrast to a world under the threat of becoming more isolationist. Having been brought up in Brazil, UK and France, Nina navigates with grace and spontaneity through different musical influences, time periods and languages. In her newest album,  we will find traditional sounds, urban bass-lines, psychedelia, mellow harmonies and vibrant drumming, all blended to amazing effects.

Nina Miranda

The first track Capoeira is a literal expression of  the words “freedom of movement”. It refers to the martial art developed by Angolans as a tool to escape slavery in Brazil. Key to Capoeira is to be able to keep your balance while dodging the opponent’s attacks and launching unexpected kicks at every opportunity.  The nature of the art could be translated into an attitude of keep moving,  despite all the challenges that life might throw at you. Capoeira, with its fighting aspect disguised by dance and acrobatics,  is not only a symbol of the mix of African, Indigenous and European cultures in Brazil. It is also a philosophy and a symbol of resistance against oppression.

As often,  oppression can be  internalised through the adoption of extreme ideologies, artificial identities,  nationalism and other rigid mindsets that keep people bound in chains.  In The Cage, we hear a call to break free from those chains. The track spoils the listeners with the participation of the renowned Brazilian singer Chico Cesar and the distinctive sound of Peu Meurray‘s recycled tyre-drums. This epic journey is continued through the next song, The Garden.  Although both tracks were separated in the album by an inaudible marker, they would be incomplete without each other. The Garden is the release from The Cage. It is the light that couldn’t exist without the darkness. It is the humanisation of the oppressed after breaking free.

Another track I adored from this album is Silken Horse.  I wish this was the song chosen for the promotional video. The arrangement synthesises traditional rhythms and poetry style from the Northeast region of Brazil. The imaginative percussion of  Anselmo Netto,  from Ibido Sound Machine in combination with  Karren Barneman’s guitar work and the dream like voice of Nina, brings me cybernetic visions of cowboys and adventurers galloping through the rash and sandy landscape of the Brazilian backlands, intercalated with images of cyclists negotiating London’s roads during raining days.

I also love Nina’s interpretation of John Lennon‘s song  Julia. This is one of my favourite Lennon’s songs of all. Although it is still credited as a Beatles work,  is actually John’s own composition. Dedicated to his mother Julia,  this truly beautiful piece shows an innocent, sincere and sweet side of Lennon. The lyrics and the mellowness of Julia, gives me the feeling that it was composed in an instant when John Lennon had allowed all his love to escape free, in a calm and ethereal way,  transcending any anger, judgements or any need to punish someone who he just loved and had abandoned him. It is a rare moment when Lennon is just himself and not that acidic and critical image he felt the need to construct. In a different twist, Nina adopted the song sensitivily to dedicate to her sister Julia, with whom she has a close and happy relationship. To the original lightness of the song, she adds a special sparkle with an uplifting Bossa Nova beat, while pronouncing the name “Julia” with both the accents of their Brazilian father and English mother.

I was pleasantly surprised to hear Rilene de Souza‘s voice  in Amazonia Amour. More than a decade ago, I met Rilene while promoting Capoeira to the students at the Central School of Speech and Drama. An impressively energetic Capoeira teacher from the Amazonia area of Brazil, Rilene arrived in London in the early 90s and together with her sister founded one of the few Capoeira groups run by women. Small world as they say, Nina spotted Rilene in the top deck of a London bus, with a berimbau in hand and wearing a capoeira t-shirt.

While her duet with songwriter Antony Elvin in The Whole of London, might sound just like a romantic song chosen as a hook-laden pop number, Nina explains that it conjures up images of post-Brexit Britain:  “Grey streets void of colour, music and culture. Cold eel pie being sucked up by sad lips and flat beer trying to wash down all the disappointment, loneliness and regret.”

Freedom of Movement is  a well crafted piece of work that reflects not only Nina’s artistic style, but also her personality and way of dealing with life. Her positivism is not disassociated from the reality. Throughout  her work, Nina demonstrates a genuine concern and empathy for what goes on in the world, but without losing that shining playfulness. From the constraints of being a mermaid in a 90s Levi’s advert, Nina has transformed herself into a bird flying free across musical boundaries.

 

 

 

 

 

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  1. Freedom of Movement: New Album from Nina Miranda | ninamirandablog - June 1, 2017

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