One look at the doleful expression that Caetano Veloso wears on the cover of his third self-titled album, from 1971, and it's clear that the listener is in for a bummer. It's a dead-eyed look that says, "Friend, sit down, have a drink, and listen to my weary tale." And a weary homesick tale it is, for the man who only a few years earlier had been one of the catalysts in a revolution that sent the Brazilian music world on the psychedelic Beatles-lovin' roller coaster of Tropicalia was now living in the U.K. in a government-imposed exile. Gone are the Day-Glo flashes of his earlier albums, replaced by the realism of a revolutionary whose dreams have been shuttered. If there was any doubt to the depths of his melancholy, Veloso clears it up right away with "A Little More Blue," reflecting on being thrown in jail and declaring that his exile is worse than his Brazilian imprisonment. Even more dismal may be the lovesick tribute to his sister, "Maria Bethânia," which plainly spells out his physical and emotional disconnection. It's not all so dismal, though; there are upbeat songs as well, like the acknowledged classic "London, London" and the lone Portuguese-sung track, "Asa Branca." There are Brazilian touches in the drums and Veloso's phrasing, but the album is more in the tradition of downer folk classics like Bob Dylan's Blood on the Tracks and Tim Buckley's Happy Sad. If that seems like heavy company, then seek out this emotionally rich and complex work by an artist who doesn't merely stand on the shoulders of giants -- he is one of the giants.
AllMusic Review by Wade Kergan