Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide Album

Elza Soares: Deus É Mulher [Deck, 2018]
Soares was a major samba star for decades--a more robust singer than Gal Costa or Maria Bethania, say, with a voice you can still stream till you drown in it should that option appeal. But I prefer the disruptive Soares masterminded by producer Guilherme Kastrup on 2016's The Woman at the End of the World (A Muher Do Fim Do Mundo)--the same Soares I got to witness holding forth from atop a pyramidal six-foot throne at an enthralled Town Hall in May, 2017. This Kastrup follow-up surfaced a year later, as Soares turned 81, and once again it roughs up the suave beauty of carioca convention. You don't need to know the title translates to God Is Woman to register how Soares's no longer curvaceous contralto makes the lyrics sound skeptical and soul-deep at the same time. But spelunk around and find a few clunky translations anyway. "Hyenas on TV," say--what in the world could that be about? For a credo, how about "To be happy at the moment is the strength that envelops me"? And to sum up her spiritual goals? Defining "clarity" as "the day so lucid," "a lucky remnant," "the shadow of death," and--best of all--"uncomfortable." A-