Album Review: 'Abracaco'

Apr 22, 2014
Originally published on April 23, 2014 10:19 am

Caetano Veloso has been making music for over 40 years, and he's among the best known singers in his native Brazil. Banning Eyre says that Veloso's new album, Abracaco, is one of the most engaging in his epic career.

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Transcript

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

Singer and composer Caetano Veloso is one of Brazil's greatest musicians. He has more than 40 years of music-making to his credit. His latest album, "Abracaco" completes a trilogy he's recorded with a younger generation of musicians. Banning Eyre has this review.

BANNING EYRE, BYLINE: Caetano Veloso was 65 when he first started working with the much younger group, (unintelligible).

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EYRE: He's now over 70, but you sure wouldn't know it from the vigorous cutting-edge tracks on this album. Veloso still has the voice of an angel and he knows how to rock in a mode that's as hip and contemporary as any indie band around.

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EYRE: Caetano Veloso first rose to fame in the '60s. Back then, he was a genre-bending artist activist, taking aim at Brazil's oppressive military regime. Over the years, he's written books, acted in films, recorded countless albums and performed worldwide in a huge range of musical styles. But the three albums he's made with (unintelligible) offer one of the most engaging chapters in his epic career.

Listen to the way Veloso pivots between minimalist punk rock and a dreamy waltz on the song "Funk Melodico."

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EYRE: Veloso paints with a rich pallet. Even in this peppy rock and electronica setting, he finds chances to croon and flow with the velvety assurance of a cool jazz master.

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EYRE: Veloso sings, I found an empire in your center. That intertwining of romance and geopolitics is characteristic of his poetry, every bit as original and provocative as his music. The album's title song unfolds with a subdued hip-hop swagger and resolves into one of the catchiest pop hooks I've heard in a long time.

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EYRE: "Abracaco" means a big hug and the amiable embrace these songs deliver requires no translation. Let's just be thankful to receive yet another big hug from this giant of contemporary music.

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BLOCK: Banning Eyre is senior editor at AfroPop.org. He reviewed "Abracaco" by Caetano Veloso. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.