Coisa Boa

Moreno Veloso

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Coisa Boa Review

by Thom Jurek

Though it's been 13 years since Moreno Veloso released his debut, Máquina de Escrever, he's hardly been idle. The guitarist and singer/songwriter recorded the former album with +2 -- drummer Domenico Lancellotti and bassist Alexandre Kassin. In the interim, he's collaborated on their recordings to complete +2's trilogy, contributed to albums by Bebel Gilberto, Gal Costa, and Adriana Calcanhotto, and produced three records by his father. Where +2's trilogy was designed to explode pop's boundaries, Veloso's Coisa Boa is their antithesis: relaxed and simple (though progressive), its lightness creates a head (and heart) space for reverie. Most of these songs were inspired after Veloso relocated to Salvador, Bahia. Much of the set was recorded there, as well as in Rio, Japan, and New York. His supporting cast includes Lancellotti and Kassin, guitarist/co-producer Pedro Sá, Arto Lindsay, Takako Minekawa, Rodrigo Amarante, Melvin Gibbs, Davi Moraes, Daniel Jobim, and many more. Rehearsals sometimes took place while Veloso's children were sleeping, adding a quiet dynamic that wound its way into the recording process. The sense of time here is dilated, the production aesthetic is economic, open-ended. The first third of the record is more active and one readily detects 's influence. "Lá e Cá" showcases Veloso's acoustic guitar framed by his co-producer's signature electric six-string, as quirky and breezy electronic effects waft through the mix as Lindsay's elliptical lap steel glides through the lyric. "Um Passo à Frente" commences as a largely acoustic samba, but in the refrain it meets skittering electric guitars and pronounced percussion that create something akin to carnival music in miniature. "Em Todo Lugar" cops the vamp from the Beatles' "The End," while using a jazzy wah-wah guitar and funky bassline to deeply sensual effect. The record takes a gentler, almost rural tone in the center, commencing with "Verso Simples." Its clip-clopping percussion, mandolin, guitars, and whistling create an informal, back-porch feel. The title track is an intimate nocturnal waltz with trippy guitar effects and sparse percussion. "Jacaré Coruja," with mini steel drums, coconut shells, and bass and guitar interplay, is an innocent fairy tale. "Num Galho de Acácias" is a lullaby, where the singer's and Minekawa's voices are accompanied by sweet Old World-sounding Wurlitzer. Both songs are tributes to Veloso's children, yet they also sound like the songwriter's wistful attempt to recapture, albeit momentarily, the dreamy innocence of childhood. The recording shifts mood again on "De Tentar Voltar." Illustrated by brushed drums, spidery electric guitar, and cello, it drips with sensuality. "Não Acorde o Neném" is a sprightly, sun-drenched, romantic choro. The brief closer, a duet with Minekawa on "Onaji Sora," is a melancholic yet committed love song, orchestrated only by acoustic guitar, bass, music box, and organic percussion. At only 35 minutes, Coisa Boa, with its focused musical simplicity, lyric intimacy, and spacious production, is as close to perfect as it gets.

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