He Needs No Introduction
Brazilian superstar Djavan needs no introduction when it comes to world music. Along with Milton Nascimento and Ivan Lins, Djavan has crossed Brazilian borders and reached the world market with his blend of pop and jazz. Even if Portuguese lyrics may not be understood by all, Djavan’s masterful word usage is truly unsurpassed in Brazilian music. He can play with sounds and create rhythms totally unique. Music and lyrics interweave seamlessly in perfect fusion.
Bicho Solto XIII is Djavan’s thirteenth release, as the number in the title indicates. Having gone through a divorce prior to releasing that album, Djavan does not try to hide that new stage in his life. His lyrics are more powerful exactly because he can draw on those new emotions. Passion is more primal than before. Fatalism seems to be ever present. A constant theme presented here is that of confusion, with lovers giving wrong signals and relationships unfulfilled. In the opening track, “Eu Te Devoro,” Djavan deals with how unpredictable a lover can be. Extending that theme, he fatalistically looks at life in “Você É.” He explores the potential in each of us and convinces all to give it all in life. The powerful message is that you are, you want, and you can reach your goals in life. Swinging from an upbeat to a more mellow mood, “Passou” is a beautiful ballad with the brokenhearted lover admitting that romance is over. What has passed is over now. Thinking of the other lover is no good. The lyrics carry the directness in verses that compare the Swedish cold weather with the lush Brazilian tropical forests — two worlds apart. A bluesy beat follows with “Atitude.” The confusion of emotions is back. If before the lovers were opposites, now nothing seems impossible. If in the opening track, Djavan was the animal devouring the lover, here the woman is the invader.
A couple of new partnerships emerged in Bicho Solto XIII. Djavan teamed up with Brazilian rapper Gabriel o Pensador and with forró master Dominguinhos. The result with Gabriel o Pensador is a funky lesson of life in “A Carta” with sharp and incisive words. The same theme is repeated in Dominguinhos and Djavan’s “Retrato da Vida.” The difference, though, lies on the softness of the melody as well as what life means in the endless country side landscape. Whereas in “A Carta” life can be like a prison or a bird cage, in “Retrato da Vida” life is the openness of vast lands and love in secret.
Two other surprises appear in Bicho Solto XIII. Djavan’s own daughter, Flávia Virgínia, contributes the only non-Djavan song in this album. The song is “Be Fair” (in English). The other surprise is the remake of Djavan’s own classic hit “Meu Bem-Querer.” If in the beginning, there was doubt in love, this closing track eliminates that uncertainty with a recipe for the kind of lover that mixes a bit of sin with a tad of emotion. That is the secret potion for Djavan’s beloved one.
Bicho Solto XIII
EPIC 789.154/2-492146 (1998)
All tracks written by Djavan, except where noted.
- Eu Te Devoro
- Você É
- Amar É Tudo
- A Carta (Djavan – Gabriel o Pensador)
- Retrato da Vida (Dominguinhos – Djavan)
- Be Fair (Flávia Virgínia)
- Tão Raro
- Bicho Solto
- Meu Bem-Querer
A modified version of this review first appeared in Luna Kafé, March 1999.