little tulip!

Tulipa – review

Momo, London

* * * *

Robin Denselow  / 1 april 2011

Tulipa is a young singer-songwriter from São Paulo who has all the makings of the next major Brazilian celebrity, thanks to her songs and her powerful stage presence. The MPB (Popular Brazilian Music) scene has produced a series of highly successful female artists, from the pleasant Maria Rita through to the more interesting and experimental Céu.

Tulipa (and that really does mean tulip in Portuguese) has the potential to outclass them both. She has just released a breezy, quirky and tuneful debut album Efêmera, on which she is joined by an impressive cast that includes Céu and members of Orquestra Imperial. It’s an enjoyable affair that has won rave reviews in Brazil, but it fails to do justice to her live performance. The Momo bar, off London’s Regent Street, is a favourite showcase for world-music artists, but it’s not an easy venue: performers have to compete with the chatter and clink of glasses.

Tulipa hadn’t made life easy for herself – this, her UK debut, was without her full band, backing was provided only by the acoustic guitar of her brother Gustavo Ruiz. But she dominated the room from the start, showing a vocal power that is never evident from the album, and an easy, charming stagecraft. Her style was in turn slinky, sassy, playful and theatrical, and her songs ranged from easygoing ballads that showed off her effortless falsetto through to the tuneful, gently dramatic Pedrinho, or a swinging, boisterous treatment of a Caetano Veloso song, Da Maior Importância.

She has a great voice, but also a sense of humour. Her one stage prop was a plastic tulip, and she ended with her one English-language song of the night, a full-tilt, almost operatic treatment of Tiptoe Through the Tulips.