Mãe de Samba is a solid rebound for Timbalada from the disappointing Mineral that both gets back to samba school basics and breaks new ground by putting a heavy new emphasis on guitars in the arrangements. The opener, "Na Beira do Mar," is right in the classic Timbalada pocket and "Ai" is another familiar carnival jump-up/shout-out featuring Ninha to get things off to a rollicking start, while acoustic string instruments and accordions pop up through "Braseira Ardia." The very strong "Bum" spotlights Denny's vocals and an arrangement that moves from accordion to horn section lines and metal guitar roars over the rolling drum thunder -- all beautifully integrated and without sounding forced. New singer Augusto Conceição's gruff, raspy voice is built for power more than subtlety on "Anágua" before the quick jump-shift to the upbeat "Me Perdoe, Brasil" with Ninha and the guitars of Roberto Barreto and Cássio Calazans as instrumental solo foils. Mãe de Samba fades a little down the stretch, and not everyone is suited to the guitar-heavy arrangements -- they just clutter things too much for Patricia Gomes on her features like "José de Maria." But "Homenstruado" is a nice, down-tempo break/feature for Denny's voice in more ballad mode, while "A Latinha" returns to the Ninha plus drums and heavy guitar roar recipe and rips along quite well. "Coroa Baiana (Pot-Pourri)" brings producer/creative mainman Carlinhos Brown to the mic for a medley of Bahian classics with more traditional arrangements and measured tempos -- the roots from which Timbalada sprang. It's a nice touch since Mãe de Samba pulls Timbalada back from its doldrums by going back to its samba school basics. Very few between-song breaks interrupt the carnival momentum, and the chief new development, the canny use of roaring rock guitars, only intensifies the musical drive and excitement.
AllMusic Review by Don Snowden