Cássia Eller, well-behaved and unplugged

Singer releases her Acústico (Unplugged) project, recorded live at the MTV studios

Carlos Calado
Who could picture Cássia Eller sitting quietly on a stool, singing a poignant Edith Piaf chanson in French? That's how Acústico (or Acoustic or Unplugged) starts. "I didn't try to look well-behaved, neither did I restrain myself. The concert's not less on the rock'n'roll side because of that", she said, during the press conference in São Paulo. As shy as she never seems to be onstage, Cássia claimed to have chosen the worn out unplugged format without external influence. "I had wanted to do it for a long time", she stated.

When somebody mentioned that the format is tired, already, Nando Reis, who co-produced the album, gave his opinion. "By doing this album , I understood that any ideas on the Acústico trajectory might be involved in prejudice", he said, explaining that he doesn't regard the album as a simple project. "It is a career album", he claimed.

Practicing in the mountains
The singer doesn't hide that the two producers (Nando and guitarist Luiz Brasil) were involved in the choice of the set list, recorded live on March 7th and 8th in São Paulo. "I had picked four songs only, when we headed for the farm", she admits, referring to a location in the mountains in Rio de Janeiro state that once housed a rehab center and where Cássia, the musicians and producers spent three weeks, rehearsing and working on the arrangements for the album.

"Ever since I worked with Cássia for the first time. I realized that her relationships with people involve a lot of confidence. She is a giver", said Nando Reis, who surprisingly introduced Non, Je Ne Regrette Rien (or No, I Don't Regret Anything), the Edith Piaf hit that opens the album, into the repertoire. "I was scared in the beginning", the singer admitted.

It was also Nando's idea to close the album with Top Top, a most mocking tune by Os Mutantes. Would that be a message to those who would certainly criticize this millionth incursion into the unplugged format? "I didn't want to sound predictable. I like the 'sabotage' thing", Cássia answered, referring to the lyrics of Top Top. "I thought it was weird, but, after I heard it, I liked it", she said. "It would be more obvious to close the album with Nação Zumbi's heavy sounds", Nando continues, making a reference to the the track Quando a Maré Encher (Fábio Trummer, Roger Man and Bernardo Chopinho, of the Pernambucan band Eddie), which features three of Nação Zumbi's percussionist - the band recorded he same song on their latest album, Radio S.Amb.A. .

Another track that the singer had never thought of recording is Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band (The Beatles). "I wanted to do Come Together, but Nando suggested that one", told Cássia, pointing out her strong bonds with the British quartet. "I learned to sing, play the guitar and even speak English with them."

Old hits and new treats
As expected, the repertoire includes acoustic versions of her old hits, such as Malandragem (Cazuza and Frejat), E.C.T. (Nando Reis, Marisa Monte and Carlinhos Brown) and Nós (Tião Carvalho). Among the new ones, Partido Alto (Chico Buarque), Queremos Saber (Gilberto Gil), Relicário (Nando Reis) and the delicious samba Vá Morar com o Diabo (Riachão), which thrilled the audience during the recording session.

The option for bringing in only a few choice guests was Cássia's. "I am selfish. I don't know how to share the stage, because I trip away when I'm singing", said the singer, who invited rapper Xis (writer of the track De Esquina), Nando Reis and the Nação Zumbi percussionists. "I didn't want a lot of people because it might be disturbing. I would sing Xis' lines all the time", she explained.

Between the tension generated by the recording of her Acústico and the presentation of the repertoire in the series of concerts that should kick off around June in Rio de Janeiro, Cássia has no doubt: she prefers the next phase. "I don't like recording. That's the last thing I think about. I'm willing to hit the road", she summed up.