Watching this performance is to witness a spell being cast, note-by-note. Liniker e os Caramelows (Liniker and the Caramelows) are from Brazil but steeped in the tradition of soul from here in the U.S. They started their turn behind the desk with the ballad "Calmô," a testament to the power of slow songs dripping with soulful emotion. It was a bold statement of just who they are as a band and what they stand for.
You have to go back to the co-mingling of jazz and Brazilian music in the late 1950s to appreciate the affinity our two countries have had for each other musically. Lead vocalist Liniker Barros has obviously done her share of listening to soul singers and she effortlessly slides from lower registers to an emotional falsetto, though the Tiny Desk space did restrict the kind of vigorous floor show of dancing and moving from all the band members that I've seen at the bigger live performances they've done.
Liniker and the band shook things up to high-gear, Brazilian funk on the second part of "Tua," complete with a mid-song, church-revival breakdown, featuring tenor sax. "Remonta" displayed the band's flexibility as they moved from ballad to a reggae bridge, eventually exploding into a majestic African-based Candomblé rhythmic finish.
This performance catches Liniker e os Caramelows as they spiral upwards toward wider acclaim and recognition. Seeing them this close helps to understand just how they cast their musical magic on their audiences.
Producers: Felix Contreras, Morgan Noelle Smith; Creative Director: Bob Boilen; Audio Engineer: Josh Rogosin; Videographers: Morgan Noelle Smith, Bronson Arcuri, CJ Riculan; Editor: Kaylee Domzalski; Production Assistant: Mary Mathis; Photo: Claire Harbage/NPR