Caetano Veloso is the poet laureate of the contemporary music scene in Brazil. Since the late '60s he has delighted his compatriots with a crackling fusion of tropical rhythms and sensual melodies dubbed tropicalismo. On Beleza Tropical: Brazil Classics Vol. 1, the sampler compiled by David Byrne last year, four out of the album's 14 tunes featured Veloso. And Estrangeiro (translation: "stranger") finds Veloso hanging 10 as a wave of post-bossa nova Brazilian music laps onto our shores.
With a languorous delivery that brims with tenderness and longing, Veloso sings in Portuguese about everything from abandoned children to the meaning of time. On the title track, a rumination on intellectual blindness and creative vision, he maintains a driving rock rhythm. Keyboardist Peter Scherer and guitarist Arto Lindsay, the co-producers and primary backup musicians on the album, help keep the seductive rhythms rolling. And Veloso's lilt and lyricism give the session the quality of a vivid dream. This is one stranger whose voice will hypnotize you, then leave you scratching your head when you wake up: You haven't understood the words, yet you know what he is talking about anyway. (Elektra Musician)