Review Summary: Uma mistura deslumbrante de bossa nova e pop psicodĂ©lico.
No genre is closer to heart of Brazilâ€™s culture than samba. Taking influence from both Portuguese and various African styles of music, samba is a blend of most of the cultures that inhabited Brazil in the early 1900s. In the 1950s, the influence of American jazz eventually reached Brazil and combined with samba to create bossa nova. In the 1960s, American influence, this time in the form of psychedelic pop, combined with bossa nova to create tropicĂˇlia. With a style that flaunts Portuguese, African, and American styles of music, Gal Costaâ€™s debut (named after herself,) is a gorgeous, and daring adventure of a record.
Gal Costa is by no means a singer/songwriter. All 12 songs were written by other people, most of which were originally performed by other artists within the tropicĂˇlia scene. For this reason, the lyrics donâ€™t really reflect Costaâ€™s personal feelings or views. Most of the lyrics only serve as something to give Costa something to sing along to. This means, that while 11 out of 12 tracks are primarily in Portuguese, understanding the lyrics is irrelevant to being able to enjoy the album. The album in general has a considerably large focus on her voice. Her voice is sweet, simple, and melodic for most of the tracks, however, she will occasionally passionately shout like on the track â€śDivino, Maravilhoso.â€ť Despite not writing a single lyric, her personality shines throughout the course of the album. Sheâ€™s a woman who feels strong emotions and she isnâ€™t afraid to show it.
Musically, the album is tropicĂˇlia at its poppiest. Harsh psychedelic soundscapes, made by keyboards, only appear in small spurts, and nothing is overbearing or unpleasant. The musical focus on Gal Costaâ€™s self-titled album is to be as beautiful as psychedelic pop can be. Maybe this is why musical arranger, Gilberto Gil, added so many orchestral string sections to the album. On the albumâ€™s highlights, the strings are often a force to be reckoned with. Opener â€śNĂŁo Identificado,â€ť uses violins to progress the song into each of its sections, while â€śBabyâ€ť used them to accent Costaâ€™s emotion during the chorus. Some tracks use saxophone and flute in the same manner, but itâ€™s less common. These instruments work together to give the album its psychedelic pop texture.
When it comes to the rock instruments on the album, the guitars are very strong and passionate â€“doing their best to match Costaâ€™s expressive voice. Some of the more upbeat songs use electric guitar, but most tracks opt for acoustic. Percussion wise, the album will switch between bongos and a drum set, both of which are mostly there to keep the beat and not much else. The bass guitar is audible, but like the drums, is mostly there to hold the song together rather than shine on its own. Mostly, these instruments are here to give the album a pop jazz flavor to aid the orchestral instrumentâ€™s psychedelic pop.
If there are any flaws to Gal Costaâ€™s debut, it could be that all of the highlights are all either toward the beginning or toward the end, leaving the middle to seem a little weak in comparison. However, no track on here is bad, just less memorable, (although â€śSaudosismoâ€ť still fails to make a huge impression on me.) To anyone who likes psychedelic pop and speaks Portuguese, or to anyone who doesnâ€™t mind their psychedelic pop being in a language they donâ€™t understand â€“Gal Costaâ€™s self-titled is entirely worth your while.
Album highlights: â€śNĂŁo Identificadoâ€ť, â€śSebastiana â€ś, â€śBabyâ€ť, â€śQue Pena (Ele JĂˇ NĂŁo Gosta Mais de Mim)â€ť