Alexia Bomtempo delivers an electrifying masterpiece in Chasing Storms and Stars. Her third studio album is an odyssey through the majestic backdrop of desert roads and endless nights. It’s entrancing wanderlust pulls from influences ranging from American Blues, Folk, Country and Motown Swing, whilst never forgetting the Brazilian beats that are in Bomtempo’s blood. Her sultry, intimate vocals embody the exquisite heartbreak and aching passion that become your trusty companions as you chase storms and stars.
Setting off through the vast expanse of America’s Badlands, the album begins with the beautifully haunting “Crystallize”. The stripped down, naked honesty of “I Thought About You” will simultaneously rip out your heart and soothe your soul before you’re uplifted by the Brazilian vibes and strings of “A Cada Canto”. The bittersweet country ballad “Too Soon” swiftly follows and before you know it, Bomtempo’s mesmerizing voice has you cascading out of control through passion’s giddy highs and the all-consuming lows in “Maybe I’m a Fool”.
Since relocating from Rio de Janeiro to New York City in 2013, Bomtempo has explored new directions in writing with her partner in music and life, Texan guitar player, producer-composer, Jake Owen. With this album she has embraced her adoptive home, her independent American persona and her new found love. “The collaboration with Jake is an essential element to the album,” she says. “From the writing process to the final product, he challenged me to work hard and believe in my potential to create.” Austin-based producer-engineer David Boyle (Patty Griffin, Trixie Whitley, Robert Plant), who has spent much time in NYC and played with Brazilian artists such as Bebel Gilberto, perfectly understood Bomtempo and Owen’s sensibilities. He became the ideal choice to help them masterfully traverse the eclectic genres encapsulated on the album, and takes the engineering and mixing credit.
Chasing Storms and Stars is an epic journey on many levels; audibly, inspirationally, emotionally and literally; the production took place in NYC, Tokyo and Texas. In 2015, a near-death moment occurred when Owen was struck by lightning while on tour in Florida, Bomtempo immediately left the family she was visiting in Brazil to be by his side. The event gave the couple reason to pause and regroup. They found healing and solace in completing the album at Boyle’s “Church House Studio” in East Austin. An old baptist church from the 1920s Boyle had converted into his studio some years ago, the palpable energy of the room is ever-present on the recording.
It’s a hypnotic pilgrimage you feel compelled to follow. The etherial, dreamscape dimension of the album is no coincidence, dreams are a divine source of inspiration for Bomtempo. She’s learned to respect the ideas that come to her and keeps a voice recorder close to her pillow.
The entire melody of Bond-esque masterstroke “Letting It Die” came to Bomtempo as she slept. “I still have my sleepy voice recording saved. Three nights in a row, three different melody parts,” she says. “Jake and I pieced it all together and showed it to David Boyle. He was very intrigued by this song and identified a dramatic, quasi-theatrical aspect to it. When we were tracking vocals, he actually played me the theme song to Goldfinger performed by Shirley Bassey as an inspiration.” Indeed the delicious chord progressions, intoxicating vocals and dangerous guitar riffs are as seductive as 007 himself.
The visceral effect of Bomtempo’s music is flawlessly exemplified on “Mexico.” A song that urgently pulls you in close, like a partner dancing the flamenco. You feel the heat on the breeze, the billowing dust, as infinite stars illuminate the sky. The song provided the inspiration for the title of the album.
Many incredible talents collaborated on the record: Percussionist Mauro Refosco (Red Hot Chili Peppers, Atoms For Peace, Forró in the Dark), Saxophonist Jorge Continentino (Bebel Gilberto, Forró in the Dark); New York drummer Darren A Beckett (Madeleine Peyroux, Brandon Flowers) and the Tosca String Quartet (David Byrne, Richard Linklater, Bonnie Raitt, Arcade Fire).Their sadly departed friend, legendary Austin bassist George Reiff lives on through all the tracks.