One of the modern MPB scene’s finest contemporary talents, Roberta Sá stands out for the consistency of her work – she’s been at it for ten years, and was voted best MPB singer at the most recent Brazilian Music Awards.
The reason is clear on this, her fifth album, Second Skin. Her voice glides confidently across 12 tracks spanning a variety of Brazilian popular musical styles. She does the samba (‘O Nego e Eu’, by João Cavalcanti), the frevo, in homage to the feverish music typical of Carnival (‘Deixa Sangrar’, by Caetano Veloso), and the dynamic ballad, which unexpectedly speeds up before segueing to an orchestra mostly comprised of wind instruments (‘Lua’, by Pedro Luís and Mário Sève, with a special appearance by Luís’s backing band, A Parede).
On the delicate title track, Sá’s voice marks out each syllable, highlighting the coldness of São Paulo while at the same time touching on more comforting themes – love, sensuality, and the second skin of the album’s title. ‘Altos e Baixos’, an infectious pop song, is a dead cert for radio play, while ‘A Brincadeira’, one of the album’s highlights, features a flute that helps to reinforce the playful mood. Sá also tackles songwriting with Pedro Luís in ‘No Bolso’, which is energised by a Latin flavour.
Besides Roberta’s voice, the collection is further pulled together by a set of sensitive orchestral arrangements, made mostly by the musical director Rodrigo Campello. But despite the vast range of musical styles Sá presents on her album, the record lacks something more dynamic than the excessive production can possibly provide.