Maria Bethânia

Años Dourados

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Well established as one of Brazil's leading popular vocalists, Años Dourados simply confirms the beauty of Bethania's voice and what exquisite taste she possesses in choosing material. Co-produced by her bother, the legendary Caetano Veloso, it's a showcase for her deep, velvety voice, with some gorgeous arrangements (except for the out-of-place saxophone on "Sei De Cor"), most especially on the final three CD bonus tracks, with Gilberto Gil's "Viramundo" given a surprisingly intense treatment, before the low-key acoustic bossa of "Apelo" and the brief glory of "O Que Tinha De Ser," from the pen of the great Jobim. His work bookends the disc, although his "Anos Dourados" (co-written with Chico Baurque) is, like much of the material here, given a fuller orchestral treatment. While that can work for"Cancao & Momentos," Bethania's duet with Milton Nascimento on the song he wrote for her, she doesn't need it. But her silky style can work within any frame -- even covering a song by Luis Gonzaga Jr. ("Tranchan"), whose rawer country style might on the surface be at odds with the city sophistication of the other composers, but whom Bethania makes as smooth as butter. That she's a classic is beyond doubt, and this is another high point in a wonderful career.