Album Review: Jay Vaquer- Canções de Exílio

If you look back at the charts of MTV Brazil’s famous ‘daily top 10 videos’ from about ten years ago(2000-2006), Jay Vaquer was present, bringing his own social criticisms through pretty visuals and through his lyrics, making ascorbic comments our modern society. However, mysteriously, Jay has all but disappeared from the radio and television and although he tried to get his work in and around the media on his last album Umbigobunker?! (2011), produced independently, it seemed nobody said a word, despite it being nominated for a Latin Grammy.

After five years, Jay has finally released another album- although he has been writing and producing new music since 2011. Canções de Exílio means Exile Songs, in English, maybe a comment on his apparent exile from the mainstream media, possibly due to his sharp criticisms or his ways of saying too much. The album is focused on the impressions of an alter-ego, Dominus Proscripto, who is on the cover of the album- the singer with his facial expressions changed to give life to this character – someone who sees the society in another angle.

In technical terms, Jay teamed up with Umbigobunker’s producer Moogie Canazio and enlists guests such as Lucas Silveira, member of Fresno and Beeshop, to program and play on some of the tracks. The album encompasses rock pop, and the album is full of thrilling guitar riffs, nice melodies and a great vocal range from the singer- who moves easily between higher pitches with a smooth tone to an angry, angry lower voice showing a great deal of emotion. All of those are present on Canções de Exílio: opening up with the great “Quantos Tantos” criticizing the “selfie culture” with witty puns and misquotation from some very known authors, to “Tudo que não era esgoto” talking about the sanitary sewer system as a metaphor to something hideous invading and taking over the country in a very clear and heavy, uncomfortable atmosphere. “Boneco de Vodu” and “Como Quem Não Quer Nada” also follow the characteristics of the albums, but heavier, full of great guitars and catchy choruses and that social criticism one more- the first about superstitions and the latter about those people who take adavantage in all possible moments and are proud of that.

Calmer and emotive moments are also part of Canções de Exílio: “Outrora” brings the best of Jay – melodically, taking you to different places leading to an exploding end; “Hematomas da Teima” says how a persistent love is able to be stronger, complete with emotinal tones and great metaphors in the lyrics. There’s always a melancholy sweetness about the songs, which adds to the drama

However, it is “Legitima Defesa” which draws the most attention. In 2007’s album Formidável Mundo Cão, the song “Estrela de um Céu Nublado”, featuring the singer Megh Stock, narrates the story of an actor that tries his best to finally achieve fame, well, his story continues on “Legítima Defesa” where he kills the president and lives the surprising consequences of the “crime”. Great puns and great eye that can deliver the best criticism of the current Brazilian society.

Once again, in Canções de Exílio Jay Vaquer shows a great quality of Brazilian pop-rock with unique metaphors, using the best slangs and expressions of Brazilian Portuguese and not sounding fake or phony. His criticism is clever, well thought out, both abusing and reflecting on how the Brazilian Culture works. Jay can show his sentimental self in an honest way without sounding cheesy.

Jay Vaquer is in the form of his life: the songs are mature, well produced and with enough doses of sentimentalism and criticism at fall in love woth. Canções de Exílio may probably get Jay out of the “exile”, but if not- it’s a shame- talents like him are really rare to see, but he will always have his faithful fanbase to, at least, keep him doing these masterpieces.

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