Arnaldo Antunes, Qualquer
One of MPB’s most progressive contemporary figures tries on restraint for size.
Although he's a veteran of Brazilian music, making records as a member of the rock band Titãs and on his own since the early '80s, Arnaldo Antunes didn't gain exposure outside of his homeland until he participated in the wildly successful Tribalistas project with Marisa Monte and Carlinhos Brown. That one-off partnership loudly announced his songwriting prowess, a readily apparent quality on his own records or in covers by Jorge Ben, Margareth Menezes or Adriana Calcanhotto. Qualquer is his most restrained, stripped-down recording; it's not exactly unplugged, but it's completely free of drums, which allows the catchy prettiness of his melodies to emerge freely. He's one of MPB's most progressive contemporary figures, but here the experimental impulses seem limited to the ubiquity of Edgard Scandurra's talkbox guitar, which ultimately provides a fittingly odd complement to the tunes. As usual Antunes delivers his pithy tunes in a voice alternately deep and almost froggy, and one that's clear, naturalistic and sharp. It's hard not love both of them.