Simone’s 3rd live album has a few surprises, such as the wonderful remake of Nana Caymmi’s hit “Resposta ao Tempo” and the not-so-wonderful cover of “V’Ambora.” Produced by Guto Graça Mello with arrangements by Ricardo Leão, Feminino’s weaknesses are the rock songs Simone re-recorded along with others new to her repertoire. On the other hand, the sambas, and particularly the duets with Zeca Pagodinho, are fantastic. (See 2 reviews below.)
By Kees Schoof
In these times of live recordings, there’s little room for surprise. If you buy a live album, you know what to expect. It’s either a live version of the most recent studio album, or it’s an overview of the singers repertoire. That’s normal, because that’s what concerts are about. So why put it on a cd? For the fans of course. And the fans of Simone can be happy with this album.
There are a few important “details” that make this album enjoyable. The very first sounds you hear (chimes, percussion, band and the reaction of the audience) make it clear that this concert registration is of an exceptional recording quality. It’s amazing how detailed everything sounds. And then it helps if you have an extraordinary band. Drummer Claudio Infante does wonderful things. His subtle drum style is a joy to listen to. Thanks to the superb recording techniques, one is able to hear every detail of his mastership, perfectly completed by percussionist Jacaré. The acoustic guitars (João Castilho and Ringo Moraes) are beautifully supported by tasteful keyboards. Ricardo Leão adds some beautiful colors with his keyboards and is responsible for the good arrangements. And Simone is, as always, in good shape. Her voice sounds so familiar that you almost take it for granted.
Unfortunately her choice of repertoire is not even half as daring as the picture on the back of the booklet of the cd. She chose the easy way, avoiding musical challenges. Some renditions of worn out compositions like ” Codinome Beija-Flor” and “Me Chama” are taken for granted. Some other obvious songs like “V’Ambora” and “A Maçã” stand the risk of gaining dust thanks to the beautiful arrangements. The instrumentation on both songs sounds impressive and tasteful. Like the subtle keyboards on “A Maçã” and the strong but refined beat Claudio Infante creates on “V’ambora.” Caetano Veloso’s “Escândalo” is treated with respect. Simone sounds at her best in this dramatic ballad. The arrangement is jazzy and fits surprisingly well the matured voice of Simone. One of the better moments on this album. Other good moments are the sambas. It was a good idea to invite Zeca Pagodinho to join in on a couple of sambas (“Se Acaso Você Chegasse” flowing over in ” Sem Compromisso”). It breaks the routine of the cd. Zeca’s ever present enthusiasm has a positive effect on Simone. The samba “Sei Lá, Mangueira” is slowly built up in a classical samba arrangement. Simone delivers a wonderful voice to make this samba sound the way its composers (Paulinho da Viola and Hermínio Bello de Carvalho) meant it to be. The bridge to Chico Buarque’s “Samba do Grande Amor” is beautiful.
The album closes with the touching samba “Mal Acostumado.” The song starts catching but unfortunately drowns in its repetition. Now that Simone gained some time by releasing this live album, we can only hope she’ll surprise with new repertoire on her next studio album…
By Egídio Leitão
For her 35th career album, Simone seems to be unsure of her direction. Recording yet another live album, Simone stumbles along into familiar territory and also takes daring leaps with new songs. The recording sound is wonderfully mixed, though. At times, you might even think this was done in a studio, were it not for the annoying applause and whistles from the audience.
Feminino opens with the megahit “Resposta ao Tempo,” made famous by Nana Caymmi in 1998. Just when you think Nana has made that her song, Simone comes along and proves she also has the touch to take a well-known tune and turn it around. In a nice arrangement by Ricardo Leão (who also plays keyboards), “Resposta ao Tempo” sounds new, and Simone’s phrasing even surpassed Nana’s. It’s not a straight bolero as in the original version, but rather a slow ballad, very fitting to Simone’s style. Ricardo Leão’s soft piano accompaniment and especially Fernando Souza’s rich bass keep the arrangement very tight. After such great opening, Simone steps back into more familiar territory. One has to ask why the need to revive a couple of old hits. Cazuza’s nice rock ballad “Codinome Beija-Flor” and Lobão’s “Me Chama” might leave you wondering where this CD is going. Don’t despair. Hold tight through four more tracks of uncertainty: “Escândalo,” in a blues arrangement; “A Maçã,” with a soft guitar intro and great lyrics advocating freedom in love; “Um Certo Alguém,” to get the audience going; and “V’Ambora,” with fine guitar solos by João Castilho and Ringo Moraes but making you want to hear Adriana Calcanhotto’s great original version.
If you’re still with me — and Simone! — it’ll be like turning an old LP to side B. Feminino changes gears and instrumentation. Here comes Simone’s love affair with Brazilian samba. And what a nice change of pace this is! Amen! “Sei Lá, Mangueira” starts off with echoes of that other Simone hit, “Tô Voltando.” From this point on, the album goes uphill from where it left off in track one. The addition of a 7-string acoustic guitar, surdo, pandeiro and tantã sets the stage for fun and good music. “Sei Lá, Mangueira” leads into “Samba do Grande Amor.” Though a bit sluggish at first, soon the arrangement picks up. Simone sounds more relaxed and lets loose. However, that is nothing compared to the next couple of classic tracks in which she shares the stage with Zeca Pagodinho, whom she calls her king. For those two duets, Zeca chose the first tune, “Se Acaso Você Chegasse,” leaving for Simone the choice of “Sem Compromisso.” The chemistry between Zeca and Simone is the climax for the CD. They sing and feed each other lines in the songs. Zeca interjects with funny remarks as Simone is singing. Truly a joy to hear them. “Se Acaso Você Chegasse” was a perfect choice for this duo. Closing this samba section, Simone ends the album with “Mal Acostumado,” which seems to have pleased the audience with the inevitable vocal participation so common in Brazilian live recordings.
There is also an interview in Portuguese about the release of this album here, “Lançamento de Feminino.”
Mercury 04400649362 (2002)
- Resposta ao Tempo (Aldir Blanc – Cristóvão Bastos)
- Codinome Beija-Flor (Reinaldo Arias – Ezequiel Neves – Cazuza)
- Me Chama (Lobão)
- Escândalo (Caetano Veloso)
- A Maçã (Paulo Coelho – Marcelo Motta – Raul Seixas)
- Um Certo Alguém (Lulu Santos – Ronaldo Bastos)
- V’Ambora (Adriana Calcanhotto)
- Sei Lá, Mangueira (Hermínio Bello de Carvalho – Paulinho da Viola)
- Samba do Grande Amor (Chico Buarque)
- Se Acaso Você Chegasse (Felisberto Martins – Lupicínio Rodrigues) – w/ Zeca Pagodinho
- Sem Compromisso (Nelson Trigueiro – Geraldo Pereira) – w/ Zeca Pagodinho
- Mal Acostumado (Ray Araújo – Meg Evans)