Gal Costa

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Personalidade Review

by Stewart Mason

After Caetano Veloso and Gilberto Gil, Gal Costa was the most visible exponent of Brazil's controversial Tropicalia movement in the late '60s and early '70s. However, as this 16-track career retrospective (part of an ongoing series starring Brazilian pop and jazz stars) proves, Costa's material is rarely as provocative as those of her friends and occasional collaborators. Even the songs written by Veloso (five out of the 16) are more along the lines of the wistful "London, London," written during his enforced exile in England and sung by Costa as if she's the one stuck in a foreign city with little hope of returning home. Personalidade hits the high points of the Tropicalia years, but it primarily focuses on Costa's later material, where her impeccably controlled and warm voice is surrounded by small and resolutely tasteful jazz combos and the material tends to be from the songbooks of Antonio Carlos Jobim and Chico Buarque. It's unfailingly wonderful stuff. Costa is a magnificent singer with an unerring taste for picking the right songs, but listening to classic early albums like Gal and Legal will give a fuller picture of what she's capable of.

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