In 2019, music fans around the world fell in love with Japanese citypop due to an algorithmic boost in a Youtube upload of Mariya Takeuchi‘s “Plastic Love”. No one knew how the song would appear in their video recommendations – yet it not only made the song viral but also led listeners to tap into more citypop and sparkled a revival of the genre.
Around the same time, although on a smaller scale, this would happen to “Esperar pra ver”, a 1971 funk track from Brazilian singer Evinha, so much that it even amassed comparisons – “The Brazilian Plastic Love”, a popular comment on an “Esperar pra ver” upload on Youtube. It was not the first time “Esperar pra ver” enjoyed hype along with newer generations – the track was included in DJ Nuts‘ 2005 mixtape Disco e Cultura – Volume 2, was sampled by rapper Don L in 2012, and remixed by Poolside in 2017. However, the latest boom of “Esperar pra ver”, which was acknowledged by Questlove in a setlist live-streamed on Instagram in 2020, is happy synchronicity, as the track is the cherry on top of an equally interesting album that is turning 50 years old in 2021.
Cartão Postal was Evinha’s third album released after her departure from the family act Trio Esperança (“Hope Trio”). Along with a brother and sister, Evinha was already a Brazilian pop princess in the late 1960s, as Trio Esperança enjoyed great success during the Jovem Guarda movement, the genesis of the Brazilian rock ‘n’ roll and pop culture scene. In 1968, she would pursue a solo career as an MPB (“Música Popular Brasileira”, or Brazilian Popular Music) vocalist.
Although less remembered or celebrated than other contemporaneous artists such as Elis Regina, Chico Buarque, Gilberto Gil, and Gal Costa, Evinha would also be one of the first to sing what was being born as MPB – a genre that, sonically and per semantic value, could encompass pretty much anything, but would take form archetypically in romantic or socially charged lyrics sung by linear timbres over acoustic guitars. The MPB that Evinha sings is influenced and shaped by funk, soul music, jazz, samba, bossa nova, and psychedelic rock ‘n’ roll.
A large part of the MPB standard songbook can be credited to the ’60 and ’70s, when Brazilian artists would create aesthetic innovations over foreign – and rejected – genres such as rock ‘n’ roll, as well as an ideal of the perfectly crafted song that would capture the Brazilian spirit, impulsioned, mainly, by “Festival de Música Popular Brasileira”, a music contest that lasted from 1965 to 1969, in which MPB icons were made in and that would generate many MPB classics. These were the atmospheres where Cartão Postal was released, in 1971.
The psychedelic influence can be heard in the bassline of the groovy “Esperar pra ver”, which also combines funk and samba influences as well as songs like “Que bandeira”, “Rico sem dinheiro”, “Tema de Adão” and “Só quero”. There is good songwriting shaped in the style of MPB Festival in “Olha o futuro”, and Evinha’s rendition of “Feira moderna” sounds like the epitome of the Brazilian song in the dictatorship years: a song with nationalistic (in a time when this word would not leave a bad taste in the mouth of a sane person who said it), half metaphorical and half explicitly political lyrics. It’s sung by a straight, non-melismatic, potent voice, tuneful enough to please the ears but not so much to the point that it won’t match the song’s progressive vibe.
“Feira moderna” was co-written by iconic songwriter Beto Guedes, and was recorded by many Brazilian artists – a frenetic rock performance by band Som Imaginário a year before Evinha’s recording is worth being celebrated. However, Evinha’s interpretation, as well as the arrangement by Orlando Silveira, sounds more epic as they highlight the storytelling-shaped structure of the song, that starts simple and grows towards an effusive finalé.
Evinha shines in the less progressive moments of Cartão Postal too, like in the super sad, jazzy arranged “Encontro”, and in her version of “De tanto amor”, a love ballad written by Brazilian dynamic duo Roberto Carlos and Erasmo Carlos. Evinha has no songwriting credits in Cartão Postal, by the way. Nor does she need it, as the album positions her as who she is and what she does best – a competent and versatile vocalist of a similar caliber of Brazil’s greatest, Elis Regina, although Evinha’s style is notably sweeter.
An often underlooked gem of MPB and Brazilian soul music, Cartão Postal has moments that would sound old-fashioned even in its release, like the American standard jazz shaped “Onze e quinze”; but some of it sounds as cool as ever, or even cooler, today, 50 years later, like “Esperar pra ver”. Even with foreign influences, the album encapsulates the best of Brazil’s mainstream miscellany of genres of the time, curated, produced, and performed in a way that entertains and thrills.