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CD REVIEW

Caetano Veloso: A Foreign Sound

Sooner or later, it seems, the Great American Songbook grips even the most storied of rock 'n' rollers. It's not just Streisand and Michael Buble who are revisiting Tin Pan Alley these days; it's also Bette Midler and Rod Stewart, who has recorded not one but two albums of pop standards. With ``A Foreign Sound,'' Brazilian troubadour and trailblazer Caetano Veloso joins the list with a collection of covers he considers American classics. It's no surprise that he salutes Cole Porter, the Gershwins, and Irving Berlin. It's refreshing, though, to hear him cover Bob Dylan (with whom he's inevitably compared), Stevie Wonder, DNA, David Byrne, and even Nirvana. Veloso's voice - a lissome wisp of air and understatement - suits the material well, but the arrangements sometimes fail him, such as on the soggy ``Feelings'' and the clunky ``Manhattan.'' He rebounds with a haunting a cappella treatment of ``Love for Sale,'' and his falsetto hits glorious highs on ``Love Me Tender,'' effectively transforming it into a lullaby. Unfortunately, Veloso decided classics require an orchestra, while rock numbers haul out the amps and electric guitars. As such, he doesn't so much reenvision these songs as he parrots them. Caetano Veloso plays Symphony Hall on Tuesday.

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