Let me be forthright, I wish I had more info to share about this album. Doris Monteiro’s “Agora”, released in 1976, was a revelation then and it still is now. Its a funk album, its a samba chanson album, its a detached post-bossanova album, its a whole bunch of shit, but first and foremost it just oozes coolness. Doris at that moment, was a 40 year old pop idol widely known for her very detached, almost flat singing style, and icy, European-like demeanor which served to present her very much like a Brazilian Nico. The records she released sold well, but weren’t really much to write home about. Somewhere, for a brief period in the mid ’70s, she got hip into the samba funk scene and decided to jump head first into a full fledged samba funk album wherein she could work with whatever unique vocal gifts she had.
This is the album where it finally clicked. Using all the warmness of 70s studio sounds, her co-conspirators created unique dance moods that melted a lot of her icy feel. “Maita” the track I’m linking via Youtube, gives you a taste of what the rest of album holds. The angular interplay between the acoustic guitars, woodwinds, and Doris is soooo breezy, personally this is a track that puts me on the beaches of Rio…Doris herself, as the track gracefully unfurls, can be heard slowly warming her vocal up until you hear an audible giggle. I love this part! its when that accompaniment wins her over to this unique sound. After that point, the rest of the album just gets more natural and deep in richness of sound and dynamics. You’ll hear urbane, smooth sun-wilted dance songs like “Partida” or her strident cover of Gilberto Gil’s “Lugar Comun,” Chanson-like bossanova songs such as “Lamento no Morro,” groovy easy funk monsters like “Dia de Feira”, and tracks like my favorite “Tema do Doris” which encapsulate the warm elegance of this album.
I sometimes look at that album cover and think about how different it looks from most Brazilian album covers done around its time. Its so similar in composition to Joni Mitchell’s “Blue” cover, another career defining album full of warm sophistication. In “Blue” Joni looks down to a certain sadness prevailing throughout it, matching the feel of her album. Only in Brazil, can Doris navel gaze and find a certain happiness/affirmation even though they’re sharing the same disposition…that’s what they call saudade, right? Anyway, I’ll provide a link to the album below since its no longer available in the US anywhere.
Listen to the Full Album Here