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Album Review

A towering figure in the history of Brazilian culture, over the past 15 years Chico Buarque has been progressively distancing himself from music, choosing instead to concentrate on his many other projects, such as his internationally acclaimed novels. Contrary to his restless peer Caetano Veloso, Buarque has always been a classicist, either working inside traditional genres such as the samba and the choro (rather than blowing them apart) or coming up with new ones. Looking back at his 45-year career (and almost as many albums), it is easy to understand Buarque when he says he is not writing songs anymore because he feels he has exhausted himself; after all, the man has written literally hundreds of undisputed masterpieces. His most recent offerings, of which the simply titled Chico is the latest, have been few and far between, and in the greater scheme of things will probably add little to his monumental legacy. Still, considering that in all of his life Buarque has been unable to write a single tune that is not at the very least utterly beautiful — not unlike his mentor Tom Jobim — the ten new songs on Chico are customarily unimpeachable. The same verdict applies to all of the elements that make Buarque's music so maddeningly, monolithically perfect: from his immaculate arrangements to his unerring choice of musical partners, his deeply tender voice, and his brilliant songwriting, everything is in place in this succinct, melancholic, almost non-assuming collection — only not at quite the same impossible heights. Finally, even if these (or any other!) songs may find it too hard to break into the Buarque pantheon at this point, the duet with rising star Thaís Gulin in "Se Eu Soubesse" demonstrates once again that no one writes for female singers like Chico Buarque, and the one with João Bosco in "Sinha" offers further proof of his supreme literary skills.


Born: 1944 in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil

Genre: MPB

Years Active: '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

Of the early stars of MPB (música popular brasileira), Chico Buarque was one of the first to become a certifiable pop star. With his warm, nasally croon, elegant phrasing, and considerable skill at lyric writing, Buarque (who is handsome to boot) became extremely popular with women, who loved his understated sensuality. However, Buarque was uncomfortable playing the role of pop star, preferring to be seen as a serious artist. Throughout his career, he's managed to have the best of both worlds, but...
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Chico, Chico Buarque
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