Consumer Guide by Review Date: 2018-07-27
Iara Rennó: Arca (YB Music, 2016) Second-generation sambista gathers all-female ensemble for rock-tinged, salt-flavored reflections on her artistic heritage that can now be downloaded free from her website ("Mama-Me," "Sonâmbula," "O Que Me Arde") ***
Iara Rennó: Flecha (YB Music, 2016) Whatever it signifies, it's the second and less musically pointed of two linked mini-albums that translates "arrow," where the first is "bow" ("Ritmo de Moçada," "Se Amanhence") *
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-
Tom Zé: Sem Vocę Nâo A (Irara, 2017) Zé isn't just a great artist. He's an ever-evolving one, an 81-year-old who sings this album with a warmth and verve that does equal justice to his melodic grace and his sing-song hooks. But the songs themselves are less intriguing than usual. Written for children 30 years ago, their lyrics apparently add up to an associative fable about the alphabet losing the letter A. "Is that A for amor?" one wonders, and maybe Portuguese speakers can figure out an answer, although that answer won't strictly speaking be Zé's--the words are by his illustrator friend Elifas Andreato. But for the rest of us it's just Zé's kiddie record, an apt but minor addition to a major legacy. B+
Tom Zé: Tribunal do Feicebuqui (Irara, 2013) For non-Lusophones, the wittiest moment of the avant-garde jingle writer's five-song rejoinder to the haters who Feicebuque-shamed his Coke commercial is the Microsoft fanfare that announces the enterprise, and he knows it ("Irará Iralá," "Zé a zero") ***
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