Senra, Rafael - Canções De São Patrício,
Is there Celtic music in Brazil? Apparently, the answer is "yes", as can be seen with ‘Canções De São Patrício’ (Songs of Saint Patrick), the debut album from Rafael Senra. Here he performs eleven versions with lyrics in Portuguese for Celtic songs of public domain (written in the 18th and 19th centuries). The repertoire goes from well-known songs such as "How Can I Keep From Singing?" (which has been performed by the likes of Enya, Pete Seeger and others) and "Down By the Sally Gardens" to some lesser known songs, such as "The Green Fields of Gaoth Dobhair" and "Three Ravens". His passion for Celtic music, born in the bucolic environment of the city of São João del Rei in Minas Gerais, where he lived for 13 years, ended up generating this work, born in an unpretentious way. Some versions, such as "The Pretty Maid" sought to be faithful to the original, while others took more unusual paths. "Embarcanações", for example, is a version of "Mhorag's Na Horo Gheallaidh", known from the repertoire of Irish groups like Altan and Clannad. The original lyric, sung by mill workers in Canada and Spain (18th century) referred to King Charles and the Jacobite rebellions. But in Senra's version, the lyrics speak of European maritime expansion and the arrival of the Portuguese in Brazil.
This is an album that transcends language, and one that I enjoyed immensely even though I couldn’t understand a word he was singing! He has a delicate and deft touch on acoustic guitar, and with just a slight reverb on his vocals he has created something that transcends borders and show that good music is truly universal. This will be of interest to anyone interested in folk, acoustic or good singer-songwriter, and it certainly doesn’t lessen the enjoyment if you can’t speak Portuguese.