Minta & The Brook Trout
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Minta & The Brook Trout

Lisbon, Lisbon, Portugal | INDIE

Lisbon, Lisbon, Portugal | INDIE
Band Alternative Singer/Songwriter


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"Crackling Folk Music"

Francisca Cortesao, a Portuguese girl born in the noble city of Oporto and who’s been living in Lisbon for the past ten years, when she led the now long gone band Casino, found the name “Minta” in the pages of a novel by Virginia Woolf. She chose it for her solo venture because of its ambiguity, and she has released two fables by this dreamy character since: You, the 2008 EP and Minta & The Brook Trout, the first album, in which she finds herself surrounded by a band that is particularly well suited to build a nest for unpretentious and detail and melody ridden folk songs. The influences are there (Cat Power, Laura Veirs, Aimee Mann) but, guided by Francisca Cortesao’s warm and driven voice, great songs like “Large Amounts”, “I Don’t Want To” or “On Lust” display a personality which is their own, and make for one of the best Portuguese albums of the Year.

Minta & The Brook Trout. 4/5.

Lia Pereira, Blitz, October 2009


"The first album of the rest of Minta’s life"

Minta, Francisca Cortesao, explains that she wonders about people and their relationships with one another. On “Minta & The Brook Trout”, we listen to the beginning of her second life.

Where does it start? It starts with the cover of “Minta & The Brook Trout”, which is what we see first. We find out where it comes from. Francisca Cortesao is listening to a Tom Waits song on her iPod, “The part you throw away”, and listening in it to something she hadn’t noticed before: “On a Portuguese saloon”, the whiskey-ridden bard sings somewhere. So there’s Francisca, a little while later, finding a conversation between Waits and Monty Python’s Terry Gilliam on the web. Gilliam tells Waits that he writes funny lyrics. Like: “On a porch, the geese salute”. Waits laughs, and explains that what he’s singing is actually “On a Portuguese saloon” — but adds that “on a porch, the geese salute” is even better. Francisca thought so too and that’s why, on the cover of Minta & The Brook Trout, which follows the EP “You” and is Minta’s debut album, what we see is precisely geese on a porch. They were “ordered” from Joao Maio Pinto e they don’t look as amusing as we thought they would from Terry Gilliam’s misinterpretation. Which, by the way, makes perfect sense. The simple lines and the isolated landscape are a good match to Minta’s music (Francisca Cortesao and her band: Manuel Dordio, guitar, Mariana Ricardo, bass, backing vocals and ukulele, and Jose Vilao, drums). Joao Maio Pinto got it exactly right.
So this is where it starts. An acoustic guitar, followed by a voice. A sing-along joined by an ukulele, an electric guitar which swings between the words, a gentle rhythm of bass and drums and the lines that walk through the song: “Give it up for those who have the guts / to hurt who they love / when they really have to”.
Humour may inhabit Francisca Cortesao’s life, not so much her music. She tells us she’s fond of Roald Dahl’s short stories (among other books, he wrote “Charlie and The Chocolate Factory”), that she’s into the kind of dark humour that does not call for immediate laughter. She then adds: “Sometimes I’m sorry I don’t make music with a bit more humour, which is something I really like in literature and film”. “Oh well”, she sighs, “maybe I’ll get there”. While she doesn’t she has a whole world to explorer. Better still, all of the world — yesterday’s, today’s and tomorrow’s, quoting Jose Cid for no good reason.

Second life

The stuff of Francisca Cortesao’s songs is right there: «I wonder about people and their relationships to each other. I’ve always turned to music to try and understand things that aren’t right in my own life. That’s all I know how to write about.” Don’t read some existentialist smothering life into this, don’t think of a bitter and permanently introspective woman. Francisca Cortesao doesn’t fit into the singer-songwriter stereotype, obsessed with life’s unbearable darkness. Nor, for that matter, does her music, where you couldn’t fit flying cutlery and screaming around the house. She, who tells us of Laura Veirs and Lambchop, of Lisa Germano and Elliott Smith, of today’s Gillian Welch and yesterday’s Graham Parsons, questions and looks into, tells stories that are always the same story, from a different perspective. The talent lies, of course, in the way in of turning this to songs that trick us — these “old” stories she tells us sound new.
Summing it up and repeating it all, it is thus here that it all begins. At “on a porch the geese salute” and the music that lies behind it. Right? Almost right.
This Francisca Cortesao we see playing in small venues, she who chose to make her album debut through a self-released edition, has, in a way, been walking backwards. When this decade began, she could be found on EMI’s catalogue. She was 17 years old and was in a band called Casino, with Filipe Pacheco. She recorded an album she can’t listen to these days, she played in big venues, she opened for Silence 4 and thought all of it was too much: “We had no experience playing live, I sang out of tune and it made me mad that I was too nervous to be able to sing any better”. Everything happened at the wrong time. The album hit the stores right after 9-11, they were two kids with no background and the music industry was starting to show signs of the commercial agony it’s in today. They recorded another album that never got released (that one she can still listen to) and, frustrated, they disbanded.
Francisca vanished from the public eye and continued writing songs for no one. And then this new world of MySpace and such things took over and she was able to show them. Thus began this second life, which, if you examine it carefully, is really her first.
“A few years ago, I wouldn’t be able to single out five Portuguese bands I really liked”, she admits. “Right now it’s easy”. It isn’t by chance that we find Manuel Dordio and Walter Benjamin, of Jesus The Misunderstood, and Mariana Ricardo in her record — their band and her songs are “two of the things” Francisca enjoys listening to the most these days. There’s more: “People got rid of the notion that to be able to get to a given point you had to go through a major like EMI or Universal. There are other ways to get around that don’t have to do with the approval of people who don’t make music, who are older than you are and who see things in a very different way, and who try to force you into this narrow space which is their idea of how it should be done”. Her point: “Musicians today are doing exactly what they feel like doing and, strangely enough, they are finding there’s an audience for that”.
So, and lastly, this is where it all begins. “Minta & The Brook Trout”, “on a porch, the geese salute”. Short and concise songs in which stories are told, more that moped over. Never truly fragile, elegantly melancholy songs.

Mário Lopes in ípsilon (Público), October 23rd 2009.
- Publico

"With this record, the Portuguese songwriter definitely claims her ground"

After the brief debut EP You —five songs only, but enough to draw some attention — the songwriter Francisca Cortesao, a girl born in Porto who passed through Casino and now accounts for the alter-ego Minta, recently presented a more daring record, long-playing and self-released. Having recently been selected to play in David Fonseca’s band (replacing Rita Redshoes), this is Francisca’s more personal investment.

Her new band — revamped— is called The Brook Trout and has Mariana Ricardo (formerly with Pinhead Society, most recently with a solo act and part of the new samba duo Domingo no Quarto) on bass, ukulele and vocals, Manuel Dordio (of Jesus The Misunderstood, Walter Benjamin and also Domingo no Quarto) on guitar and Jose Vilao on drums and percussion. The record also has some deluxe guests: Walter Benjamin, vocals, guitar and co-authorship of “I Do not Want To”; BlackBambi (Miguel Bonneville, of UrMaa), vocals, and Joao Cabrita, saxophone.

For those who know the EP You, the formula of this new work keeps the same coordinates, with minor changes in the details: a folk sensibility is clear, the combination of music and lyrics works very well and Francisca’s voice — unique — stands out. The arrangements are discreet but effective. Where You already gave a good impression, Minta & The Brook Trout is more robust and represents an important step in this singer-songwriter’ career, from the revelation to the confirmation status.

To make identification easier, we can hold on to names of the female folk universe — like Beth Orton, Cat Power and Fiona Apple — but Minta doesn’t closely resemble any of them, her songs sound downright original. On the cover of the album, two geese standing on a porch in the middle of the forest are watching the horizon. Minta & The Brook Trout's music is like that: curious, poetic, unexpected, enthralling, like Joao Maio Pinto’s artwork.

Nuno Catarino,, December 2009




- You, EP, 2008
single: "A Song to Celebrate Our Love"
- Minta & The Brook Trout, LP, 2009.
singles: "Large Amounts", "If You Choose to Run"


- Novos Talentos, 2008. Features "A Song To Celebrate Our Love"
- Portugal Rebelde, 2010. Features "Large Amounts"
- Sintra Misty, 2010. Features "Without It"





Minta, or Francisca Cortesao, released her debut EP, You, in 2008. Those first songs got her music compared
to that of Feist, Aimee Mann, Elliott Smith and even The Beatles. Minta herself was deeemed “a singer-songwriter
of lost loves and disquietude” (Público).
Minta & The Brook Trout, an LP, came out a year later. Mariana Ricardo and Manuel Dordio, as well as guests Jose Vilao,
Joao Cabrita, BlackBambi and Walter Benjamin joined Francisca in making a record
that has been said to feature “absolutely wonderful music made of luminous and sublime songs” (i).


— One of the best Portuguese albums of the year, 4/5, Lia Pereira, BLITZ
— absolutely wonderful music made of luminous and sublime songs, António Pires, i
— Minta & The Brook Trout's music is like that: curious, poetic, unexpected, enthralling, Nuno Catarino,
— Elegantly melancholy songs (...) that pull you in, Mário Lopes, Público
— Excellent, Henrique Amaro, Portugália, Antena 3 Radio

recommended if you like: Laura Veirs, Catpower, Feist, Belle & Sebastian