The expectations for Fernanda Porto's second album were rather high, as her eponymous debut was very much liked by the critics and also rather successful commercially. On Giramundo, Porto surprisingly abandons many of the electronic sounds and beats that propelled her to fame two years earlier. Instead she opted for a more organic pop sound. The electronics are still there, though (on some tracks more than others), but they function more as a complementary spice added to perfect the music, rather than being the fundamental base on which everything else rests, as was the case on her first album. The drum'n'bass is also still present on some tracks, though the beats are mostly organic (Porto herself calls this acoustic drum'n'bass). Helping to create this new sound are bassist Doug Wimbish and drummer Will Calhoun from the American rock band Living Colour, who perform on almost all the tracks. Although the listener might not think of it as such, Porto's first album was stylistically quite diverse. But the electronic sound very effectively bound the different styles together, making the album sound homogenous. Giramundo isn't really that much more "eclectic" than the previous album, but the fact that Porto has scaled down the use of electronica accentuates the differences between the various moods and styles of the tracks. This, in turn, makes the album feel less coherent. But what matters the most is that Porto has maintained the high quality and elegance that made her debut so strong, even though the musical presentation has changed. Giramundo contains nice and catchy pop songs as the reggae of "De Graça," and the electronic ijexá (a popular Brazilian rhythm) of the title track. There are also three very slick ballads, with "Bicho do Mato" having the same kind of melodic fluency as the popular "Vilarejo Íntimo" from her first album. Of the two or three tracks that mix drum'n'bass with rock, "Pensamento 4" was co-written by the rock poet Arnaldo Antunes. The much respected samba and bossa nova composer Chico Buarque lends his voice to "Roda Viva" (one of his own compositions), which Porto has turned in to a rather frenetic drum'n'bass tune. That version of "Roda Viva," plus two other interpretations of Chico Buarque songs, are scheduled to appear on Fernanda Porto's soundtrack to the film Cabra Cega, by Toni Venturi. One or two songs do not reach the same high standard as the rest, and perhaps they slightly weaken the positive overall impression, but Giramundo still confirms Fernanda Porto's status as one of the most talented artists of the current Brazilian pop scene.
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AllMusic Review by Philip Jandovský