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Baker's Dozen

Bon Appétit: James Acaster's Favourite Albums
Emma Garland , February 9th, 2022 10:36

From the tiny emo scene of noughties Kettering to a love of underground hip-hop and the undying appeal of a cult classic, comedian James Acaster takes Emma Garland through the albums that have defined his life


Elza Soares – A Mulher do Fim do Mundo

I had no idea who Elza Soares was when I discovered this album, but she’s known as the Brazilian Tina Turner, apparently. When she made this she was in her 70s, and she recorded it with loads of new Brazilian musicians because she wanted to not fall out of the loop and do stuff that was dated. So there’s a lot of punk musicians, a lot of people who work in hip hop and stuff like that – but it also sticks to samba and the more traditional pop stuff that she used to do.

Her voice on this album is so unique and raspy. She sounds like she should be wrapped in a shawl. She’s got this growl but she can still really belt it out. And you’ve got musicians on it from bands like Metá Metá, who are really on the cutting edge of Brazilian music, who all came together as fans of hers. She’s really throwing herself into it but kind of letting them lead. The overwhelming thing is that it’s so punk, the whole album. Kiko Dinucci, the main guitarist in Metá Metá, was in hardcore bands so he has this way of playing – especially when he picks the guitar with a plectrum, it sounds like a hardcore guitar but he’s playing a samba rhythm or a jazz rhythm. It’s like if Tom Jones, nowadays, chose to do an album with Black Midi or IDLES (even though I’m not a massive IDLES fan). It’s just a reminder that you don’t have to have a heyday album and then just phone it in forever. You can just completely reinvent yourself.

I can’t speak Portuguese so I don’t know what she’s saying in the lyrics and I don’t care because it still sounds amazing, but from what I gather a lot of it is really personal. She’s talking about domestic abuse and relationships and sexuality – stuff that she wasn’t singing about before, and being a bit more personal and open. There’s not a second on it that I don’t think is incredible.

It's one that I really hope people don't ignore. She done some stuff since which is really good, but it's kind of building on what she’s done [on this album] and continuing in that vein, which is really cool, but this has that energy of everyone going ‘fuck it, let’s do something new’. You also get a sense that all these people who really look up to her and idolise her are now getting to play with her, and they’re really excited about it. And not only that, but she’s told them they can do what they want. It’s like my favourite Brian Wilson album is That Lucky Old Sun, because it's him with that band who were a Brian Wilson tribute band. They did Smile with him, which was obviously very exciting for them, but then he went ‘tuck it, let’s write an album together’, and it's so much better than Smile in my opinion. I think it’s a very similar energy with this album, except this has more elements that I enjoy with the abrasiveness all the way through.

It’s not to everyone's tastes. I remember playing the album and the girlfriend I had at the time was like, ‘I hate her voice and I can’t have this on’. Sometimes you can hear the spit spraying from her mouth when she’s singing and stuff, but I love that about it. There’s not an album that sounds like it, really. It’s such a melting pot of individual artists, and you can hear their personalities in their solo stuff coming through on this. Even in her own stuff since, there just isn’t that same vitality of everyone discovering this sound together.