...a very likeable selection and a useful sampler of his recent work...
Jon Lusk 2008-05-30
First things first. This is not The Best of Marcos Valle, as in a career retrospective. Valle has been releasing records since 1964, and for highlights of those early years, seek out The Essential Marcos Valle (EMI Brasil, 2003), which features the original version of his biggest hit Samba de Verão – a.k.a. So Nice (Summer Samba) – and outlines the intriguing directions he took after the mid 60s bossa nova craze. Then there's Vol. 2 …
This new release is actually a compilation drawn from his three most recent 'comeback' albums, the collaborative project Friends From Rio (1996) and previously unreleased live recordings, all made since he hooked up with UK-based producer Joe Davis and his Brazilophile label Far Out in the mid 1990s. The subtitle is 'Carioca Soul' but could just as easily be 'The Far Out Years…so far'.
Valle is an artist who's always moved with the times, and this most recent phase finds him breathing new life into the bossa nova, starting with Nova Bossa Nova from the 1996 album of the same name. Os Grilos (the Friends From Rio cut) is a reworking of his 1968 classic Crickets Sing For Anamaria featuring Patricia Alvi, and he appears equally well matched with Joyce on the twitchy rhythms of Valeu.
The rather wobbly version of Samba de Verão is the first of three so-so live tracks closing the album that merely serve to underline his shortcomings as a singer. Valle is at his best on the studio recordings when simply murmuring in your ear or scat-singing, as he does on Parabens or Escape, where he sounds pretty damn relaxed about getting away from whatever it is. He also turns out to be a delightfully laid back exponent of the Fender Rhodes on tracks like Nordeste. Poweride is another cruisy highlight and like several other tracks features subtle electronica from co-producer Roc Hunter; there are no lyrics – just sweet nothings, and what sounds suspiciously like stoned laughter. Overall, this is a very likeable selection and a useful sampler of his recent work that could well encourage further investigation.