Review by: Nina Anatchkova
Album assigned by: Roland Bruynesteyn
Gal Costa (or Maria da Graça Costa Penna Burgos as her mandatory 15 names go) is a Brazilian singer of popular music, and Gal Costa is her debut solo album (although not her first record – Domingo from 1967, for instance, is a collaboration by her and Caetano Veloso and also deserves praise), released in 1969.
The album opens on a cacophony suspended for a moment or two, and I was just about to steel myself for yet another psychedelic 60s record, when the noises gave way to a peaceful and lushly arranged piece of melancholy that builds and builds and finally dissolves into the same tense cacophonous sound that gets released. Er, or something.
The second track, “Sebastiana”, is so very close to scat singing territory in the nimble intensity of vocal delivery although it probably never crosses the line, and up next is the only song sung in English on this record, “Lost in Paradise”, a very jazzy piece that is incredibly well coloured by the musicians and instruments that back up Gal Costa and also impressively carried through by her powerful but subdued vocal performance. Perhaps my favourite track on the first side is “Se Você Pensa” – a true showcase of vocal control – passionate and with a edge to the voice and yet holding onto some really cool intervals that I’d dare you to try on your own.
Indeed, this record contains 12 songs, contributed by a roster of writers (among which Caetano Veloso), but they are all given an excellent rendition that holds your interest throughout the piece (especially in the instrumentation department) and all of them showcase Gal Costa’s abilities as a performer. She doesn’t go quite as wildly experimental and fascinatingly hysterical in delivery as she does on her follow-up of several months later Gal but still, even if sprinkled with some occasional bossa nova flair (a rare fruit of delight that best be enjoyed very sparingly, at least in my opinion) this record is no bore. In fact, even if some of the sonic details on it are very typical of the era, I’d venture as far as to say that it sounds quite timeless and probably even a little bit profound, and heavenly melancholy on a summer sunset somewhere near the sea is probably its main area of expertise.