Skip to page content

Rodrigo Amarante

About this Artist

“It feels relaxing to abandon the illusion of verisimilitude and bring forth the confusion and contradiction of what I have to work with, these tales, memory. That is the sound of ‘Drama.’” — Rodrigo Amarante 

Rodrigo Amarante is thrilled to announce his new album, Drama, out July 16th on Polyvinyl. Drama is the long-awaited follow-up to Amarante’s acclaimed 2014 debut, Cavalo – also being reissued by Polyvinyl, a stunning and intimate collection of songs where “every instrument breathes and every sound blends, yet every moment is distinct” (NPR Music). In conjunction with today’s announcement, Amarante unveils Drama’s lead single, “Maré,” and it’s accompanying self-directed video. An upbeat, seemingly happy song with less jolly aspects hidden beneath the surface, “Maré” is based on Spanish proverb: the tide will fetch what the ebb brings. “Things that arrive in your hand by destiny, they are just as easily swept away,” explains Amarante. 

You may have heard “Tuyo,” Amarante’s theme tune to the Netflix drama Narcos, or the Little Joy album. You might have noted Amarante’s name among the credits on songs by Gal Costa, Norah Jones and Gilberto Gil; or perhaps you saw him play live with Brazilian samba big band Orquestra Imperial, or with Rio rockers Los Hermanos. You may think you know Rodrigo Amarante already, but Drama, his second solo album, is going to introduce a whole new level of confusion to the mix.

Born in Rio de Janeiro in 1976, Amarante points to two incidents in his past that fed directly into the recordings: a childhood illness that makes him appreciate the beauty of the second chance; and the moment when his father (with Amarante’s begrudging consent) cut off his long hair, an attempt to unburden all the drama and sensitivity from the young man’s head. “Dressing up as means to reveal, rather than dressing down, to conceal, that is Drama” says Amarante. “A tool. Tickling memory into confession, seeing through the eye holes of a mask. Peeking into the mirror that is playing a part. This is not something I followed but a posthumous realization, something that followed me, as it often happens. These songs were the instruments to realize it, not the other way around.” 

Drama began life at the end of 2018 with a session involving Rodrigo’s regular band - “Lucky” Paul Taylor on drums, bassist Todd Dahlhoff, Andres Renteria on congas, and Amarante on guitar. With writing and recording continuing through 2019, some songs were pulled out from the back of drawers, and more ideas came anew. In early 2020, with the album not quite ready, lockdown hit Los Angeles and Amarante found himself alone, adding overdubs and mixing the completed tracks with Noah Georgeson, though the two were never in the same room. Unsurprisingly, isolation dictated the sound of the album. “Lockdown and limitation have produced some great ideas. I started the album wanting to focus on rhythm and melody, to abandon those rich chord progressions and modulations I’ve inherited from Brazil and be more straight for a bit. As I wrote I realized that there was a trigger to me in that attempt, a shadow of the shaved-head boy I had to be, sucking it up. Instead, I embraced the complications I’ve inherited.”

Drama closes with piano and Amarante’s voice on the closing track: “To live is to fall.” After all the emotional upheavals the singer has put his cast through, is this some kind of farewell to this mortal coil? “Everything furthers,” says Amarante. “Whispering. You get louder like that, people respond better to an invitation,” and adds: “Staring at the absurd while remaining kind, being open to the gifts of confusion; that's why we create these tools that are stories and songs, to help us see each other.”