Margareth Menezes

Luiz Dourada

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What on earth happened to Margareth Menezes? The Brazilian singer seemed like a lock for international pop stardom after her groundbreaking Elegibo and Kindala albums. She disappeared back into her native land and apparently started courting the Brazilian pop mainstream with Luiz Dourada, while Marisa Monte came along and stole her potential international thunder. There's a definite samba school feel in the arrangements, but on the title track, strings soar over the drums and with horns added in, it winds up a bit busy -- producer Nestor Madrid seems to have a mortal fear of leaving any open space in the arrangement unfilled. "Val Maxar" takes things funkier, but it's back to the strings on "Novos Rumos" -- Menezes is in fine voice, beautifully flowing and typically Brazilian mellow, and for all the instruments, the arrangement here and on the ballad "Mar de Amar" do give her enough room to flow. "Raca Negra" goes back to samba -- it sounds like a Carlinhos Brown song but it's not -- and "Desabalada" is bright, up-tempo pop that's heavy on keyboards. "Club Do Brown Bonjor" is by Brown, and it's the most distinctive track, with Menezes' voice lightly swooping upwards over a reggae cum funk backing track. A Latin feel with punchy horns marks "Ate Rir O Mar," and "Chegar A Bahia" goes the roots route with a prominent berimbau. Margareth Menezes is still a superb singer with an absolutely gorgeous voice and, while Luiz Dourada is good, it's a bit of an eclectic grab bag that seems to be trying to offer something to all segments of the Brazilian mainstream audience. It's kinda discouraging to hear an artist who was so innovative and exciting following trends rather than initiating them. Worse still, the short songs whiz by so quickly the album's over almost before you know it -- and that's not a good sign in pop music, where a prime objective is catchy material that sticks in the memory.