A Fountain of Songs
I do not know how many times I have read about some Brazilian performers complaining about the lack of good and original music for new albums. As a result of that, we have half a dozen or more releases that focus on Chico Buarque, Tom Jobim, Dorival Caymmi and other Brazilian music masters. Of course there is nothing wrong with their classic music. What is difficult in recording familiar songs, though, is how often a good singer fails to add anything new to those repertoires.
The reverse of that coin is presented by daring artists who are constantly seeking to add more names to the growing Brazilian music pantheon of great music. I remember when Elis Regina introduced “new” names such as Milton Nascimento, Belchior, João Bosco and others. Another performer that comes to mind is Ney Matogrosso, who often thrives and innovates, and he has yet to miss the mark in his very long and successful career. These are just two examples of performers who prove visionary. Let me humbly add the name of Simone Guimarães to that honored list. Simone’s latest release, Cândidos, deserves the acclaim and distinction of introducing a non-familiar composer into the national music scene. As the album sub-title shows, Simone Guimarães is presenting us with the music of Isaac Cândido. I intentionally choose the word “present” precisely for its varied meanings, in particular, the acts of introducing and making a gift. Cândidos is both and a whole lot more.
Isaac Cândido, a native of Orós, Ceará, has written music with Ednardo, Tom Zé and Alceu Valença, for example, and he has appeared in several shows in Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo. However, even with two previous albums released in 1999 (Isaac Cândido) and 2005 (Algo Sobre a Distância e o Tempo, together with Marcus Dias), he is yet to be discovered in a broader national level. His career spans over 20 years with a repertoire of over 250 songs in genres that include choro, baião, pop, tango and even salsa. He is beginning to be noticed along with other Brazilian northeastern composers such as Lenine, Zeca Baleiro, and Chico César, as he has opened for artists such as Zélia Duncan, Leny Andrade, Moraes Moreira, his cousin Fagner, Simone Guimarães, Leila Pinheiro and others. Now with Simone Guimarães’ Cândidos, Isaac gets the well-deserved attention he is due.
Cândidos was for me like a breath of fresh air. Just when I was beginning to think that Brazilian popular music was sounding stale, I find this new album. There is no doubt that Isaac’s compositions here have a certain Milton Nascimento’s Clube da Esquina feel to them, and with Simone Guimarães’ performances, these songs find the proper voice to place them in the limelight for all to enjoy. The album is a collective effort with Simone, Isaac and all the band contributing to its beautiful artistic direction. The band playing with Simone in Cândidos is Adelson Viana (keyboards), Cainã Cavalcante (guitars), Miquéias dos Santos (bass) and Ricardo Pontes (drums). This small ensemble is enough to focus on the gorgeous music and lyrics we hear. Furthermore, there are two special vocalists joining Simone in a couple of tracks: Fagner and Isaac Cândido himself. Also, Márcio Resende is featured on sax and flute in one track and Hoto Jr. on percussion in another.
The lyrics in Cândidos are a reflection of the world we live in. They are about people (“Nós”), life beyond illusions (“Além da Fronteira”), home (“A Casa Nossa”), time and emotions (“O Tempo,” “Quase,” “Sóbrio”) and other universal themes. Musically speaking, Cândidos is pleasing to a wide range of rhythms. The gentle accordion opening in “Nós,” for example, forms the basis of a haunting melody for the lyrics about all types of people: musicians, Oz magicians, timid people, critics, vandals — “we are all like that,” the chorus repeats. Resende’s sax solos and Hoto’s percussion addition in “Além da Fronteira” take us beyond Brazilian borders. This delicious, bouncy salsa is enthusiastic and inebriating. Half way through the song, Viana does a terrific piano solo, and we yield to Simone’s call: “¡Ay, que rico!” Another delectable exploration outside of a typical Brazilian genre is the tango-flavored “Outros Motivos.” Juxtaposed with Viana’s accordion accompaniment we have lyrics taking us back to our roots in Portugal and the poetry of Fernando Pessoa. At the first chords of Cavalcante’s guitar in “Olhe” we feel the weight of a beautiful and very introspective ballad about searching for oneself in front of a mirror. That search turns into trying to find the other person by your side. If the chord progressions and melodies have not yet overwhelmed you, the Nascimentoesque “Os Mamíferos” will do the job. Even the vocals towards the end will have you hearing echoes of Milton Nascimento. Another great song is the rock ballad “Quase” and its lyrics about our insecurities and fears. The contrasts with concepts such as “bicho manso” (tamed beast) and “sorriso querendo chorar” (a smile wanting to cry) are profound. On and on, Cândidos is a vault of surprising performances, a fountain of great songs.
In the liner notes, Simone Guimarães thanks the “endless artistic wealth that Ceará and all the Northeast” offer all Brazilians. In turn, we as listeners must thank the visionary and accomplished performer Simone Guimarães is for presenting us with the songs of Isaac Cândido in a most original and captivating release. This is an album blending thoughtful lyrics and complex melodies with a positive message that quality music still lives in the Brazilian repertoire. Cândidos is undoubtedly one of 2010’s best albums — or 2011, if that’s when you buy it.
Here is a 10-minute video of the Programa da História da Música with host Ulysses Gaspar talking with Simone Guimarães and Isaac Cândido about Cândidos. Simone and Isaac perform two songs, one of which is not included in the album. The songs are “Com Nome de Amor” (Isaac Cândido – Simone Guimarães) and “Quase” (Isaac Cândido – Marcus Dias – Rogério Lima).
Cândidos – Simone Guimarães
Canta Isaac Cândido
- Nós (Isaac Cândido – Marcus Dias)
- Além da Fronteira (Isaac Cândido – Dalwton Moura – César Nascimento)
- A Casa Nossa (Isaac Cândido – Henrique Beltrão) w/ Fagner
- Olhe (Isaac Cândido – Alexandre de Lima Sousa)
- Os Mamíferos (Isaac Cândido – Marcus Dias)
- O Tempo (Isaac Cândido – Marcus Dias) w/ Isaac Cândido
- Outros Motivos (Isaac Cândido – Marcus Dias)
- Quase (Isaac Cândido – Marcus Dias – Rogério Lima)
- Por Ser Navegante (Isaac Cândido – Marcus Dias – Rogério Lima – João Mamulengo)
- Sóbrio (Isaac Cândido – Marcus Dias)