Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Elza Soares

  • The Woman at the End of the World (A Mulher Do Fim Do Mundo) [Mais Um Discos, 2016] A

Consumer Guide Reviews:

The Woman at the End of the World (A Mulher Do Fim Do Mundo) [Mais Um Discos, 2016]
With the 79-year-old "samba icon" who fronts this remarkable album absent from my recall memory and my reference library, I found her Rough Guide hip-hop track and then a trove of older songs on Spotify. Capacious and curvaceous by samba standards, her voice did roughen with age, and that half-sung rap bespeaks a willingness to try anything. But nothing I've heard portends the dips, flights, and abrasions of this exciting album--it's like Tom Zé gone full avant. Conceived and written by alt-samba insurgents into catchy dissonances, classical instruments, and industrial sonics, it's a chance for them to reinvent their roots and for her to feel more alive--even more alive, that is. Carrying the tune when it's worth the weight, growling and gargling at will, scatting here and ratta-tat-tatting there, she's all gusto shouting a faster-faster "Pra fuder! Pra fuder! Pra fuder!" ("To fuck! To fuck! To fuck!") and all scorn calling the abuse hotline and then threatening to tell his mommy too. But that's only when you're reading the booklet I strongly advise, because as with Tom Zé, only his verbal content is even sharper and slyer, the music is where you'll come in and why you'll stick around. Soares's weathered raw power gains dimension from her young sponsors' irrepressible experiments and unapologetic beats. The collaboration makes complete sense. And there's nothing like it. A