Album Reviews

Seu Jorge – The Life Aquatic Studio Sessions

(EMI) UK release date: 10 April 2006

Brazilian actor and songsmith Seu Jorge made his debut in Fernando Meirelles’s highly regarded film City Of God, which led to his next major screen role in Wes Anderson’s The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou.

If you ever seen one of Anderson’s movies you’ll be familiar with his off-kilter sense of humour. Jorge’s role in the movie could easily have been swallowed up by the rest of Bill Murray’s aquatic eccentrics if it weren’t for his splendid renditions of David Bowie‘s hits in Portuguese. Here then, is a belated release of Jorge’s stripped down re-versioning of Ziggy Stardust’s greatest moments, recorded for, and inspired by, the movie’s soundtrack.

This release seemingly takes its cue from the recent success of Nouvelle Vague‘s minimalist takes on Teenage Kicks and Depeche Mode‘s Just Can’t Get Enough. However, this is a notch up from kooky cover hell and nestles itself snugly between the Jose Gonzalez and Devendra Banhart‘s of this world.

Initially there is a feeling that this album will begin to wear thin and you think the CD won’t be able to sustain the ‘joke’ for its 14 tracks. All these fears are dispelled by the intimate, relaxed vibe and Jorge’s smooth vocals and guitar playing.

This is a difficult review to write as you probably already know Bowie’s songs like the back of your hand. But every now and again you need to be reminded what a nice hand you have – it’s testimony to how good these songs are in the first place that they stand up even when sung in a different tongue.

Queen Bitch, which features heavily in The Life Aqautic… is the highlight of the album as is, somewhat predictably, Ziggy Stardust. But you’ll find that the gang’s all here including Life on Mars, Changes and Suffragette City.

Provided you can put aside its novelty appeal and take it seriously this is a nice way to chill out in time for the summer, providing you with the opportunity to listen to something different for a change. This makes the perfect antidote to the umpteenth Bowie re-issue. But be aware – it’s worth checking out now before the advertising executives get hold of it. It wouldn’t surprise me if I hear this on a continuous loop in Borders soon. You have been warned.

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Seu Jorge – The Life Aquatic Studio Sessions