Chico Buarque is yet another name I would’ve never heard about if not for the deepest pockets of the internet. I’m not familiar with him most likely because he’s Brazilian, but the man is extremely prolific, not only with music but he’s written books, plays, and films. Construção is a mix of genres, and it’s not easy to pin down exactly where he’s getting his inspiration. It’s not exactly Samba, but it’s not exactly Folk or Bossa nova. It makes for some fascinating and unpredictable listening.
Deus lhe pague (God Shall Pay You) starts off the album with a tense, anxious, and mysterious mood. It’s a scathing critique of the military dictatorship that was in power when this was recorded. Cotidiano is an amusing song of an obsessed lover and his wrestle with whether or not to break up the relationship with her. I really like Buarque’s singing voice on this album, it’s just so smooth on everything, including the very danceable Desalento (Dismay) and Samba de Orly. The instrumentation is quite varied on this album, and though he centers in a general feel, it never feels like he’s repeating himself with his musical ideas.
The eponymous Construção (Construction) is another political song, this time about the working class being turned into machines. He does an excellent job of ramping up the anger with the lyrics and the intensity of the song. It’s always surprising to see art that has survived dictatorships, especially ones that are bitterly critical of them. The album is also very personal and tender. Olha Maria (See Maria) is a beautiful song of lost love, and I adore how it’s just Buarque and the piano. Cordão might be the aftermath of that, given how it’s about protecting one’s self from through isolation:
Nobody is going to see me to suffer
Nobody is going to surprise me
in the solitude night
that have nothing to lose
will make with me an immense cord”
This album is gorgeous and to me it’s a window into a world that I was completely ignorant of. Chicao Buarque’s discography is honestly intimidating so I will enter with caution and go through recommendations first. For now though, I highly recommend checking this album out, it’s a really enjoyable listen and I think you need to read the translated lyrics along with it, although I couldn’t find them for every song (I used lyricstranslate.com). Fans of Folk or Samba will really love this album, and as a random aside I hate to call music “World Music”. It’s not World Music, it’s Brazilian Folk/Samba, and it’s gorgeous.