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Back to the Brazilian basics


Caetano Veloso

Essential: "Outro"

His hair is silver, his skin etched with age. But on "Cê," Caetano Veloso sounds like the Dorian Gray of Tropicalia music. The album, the 40th by the 64-year-old Brazilian, runs on the kind of creative freedom that launched the rebellious pan-genre Tropicalia movement in 1960s Brazil. Resisting the comfy scrub of contentment that bleaches an artist's audacious colors over time, Veloso's voice and songs are newly elastic, inspired by the economy and daring of the trio of electric guitar, bass, and drums that accompanies his acoustic pluck. The album's 12 songs, sweaty with immediacy, bounce through its emotional modes: chunky, coiled garage-band riffs a la Tom Zé; samba with a funky snarl; a bass-and-drums war dance; the neo-bossa-nova prance of "Homen"; a devil-chorus finale. These frenetic peaks mix nicely with Veloso's suave Portuguese croons on "Minhas Lágrimas," a love song Jeff Buckley might have coveted, and "Não Me Arrependo," a "Walk on the Wild Side" for the sentimental set. Especially noteworthy: the bold guitar work of Pedro Sá.