Legendary Brazilian singer-songwriter Caetano Veloso follows up on the career-shifting Cê (Nonesuch, 2008) with zii e zie, featuring the same band. Though the lineup includes only guitar, bass and drums (plus some occasional acoustic guitar from Veloso), the arrangements all carry his signature complexities and bossa-inspired changes.
In contrast to Cê, there are few angry moments. Instead, Veloso now wonders about his own ability to fall in love again and about the beauty around him. He often uses cryptic language, which leaves much of the interpretation to the imagination. However, in "Tarado Ni Voce" ("Horny for You") he simply repeats "tarado" over and over as he marvels at the open display of flesh during the four days of Carnaval. He also makes a clear political statement with "A Base de Guantánamo" ("Guantánamo Base"), with the lyric "The fact that Americans disrespect human rights/is too much for me not to be shaken."
The disc's highlights include "Falso Leblon," a lively samba that showcases the talents of guitarist Pedro Sá and bassist Ricardo Dias Gomes, who skillfully fill the tune's empty spaces with great riffs and thumping bass lines, bringing the listener's attention to the words, which rail against the damage Rio de Janeiro has suffered over the years. Also enjoyable is "Menina da Ria" ("Girl from Ria"), a cheerful tune in which Veloso admires the beauty of a Portuguese woman who catches his eye. And worth checking out is the bossa-like "Ingenuidade" ("Naiveté"), where the singer recognizes that he was once again romantically deceived when experience should have taught him otherwise.
Not all the songs are great, though. "Lobao Tem Razao" ("Lobao Is Right") is a failed attempt to blend rock and Bahian rhythmsthere aren't enough percussion instruments to make it workand the opening track, "Perdeu ("Lost"), causes some doubt about Veloso's museat least until the rest of the CD plays out.
In spite of the few weak moments. zii e zie shows that Veloso is still in great form as a songwriter who is always willing to take risks in order tolike Bob Dylanconstantly reinvent himself.
Personnel: Caetano Veloso: vocals, guitar; Pedro Sá: electric guitar; Ricardo Dias Gomes: electric bass;
Marcelo Callado: drums.