Bebel Gilberto's new self-titled album is the aural equivalent of a syrupy sunrise watched from a white sand beach. This album will keep you so busy humming a summery tune that you won't notice the cool fall nights encroaching upon us.
Gilberto is a Brazilian and a New Yorker who proves that the two need not be mutually exclusive. Born to Joo Gilberto, bossa nova master of "The Girl from Ipanema" fame, and Brazilian vocalist Micha, Gilberto began performing publicly with her mother at age 7, though her solo album, Tanto Tempo, didn't debut until 2000, when she was 34.
Tanto Tempo was deeply influenced by Gilberto's producer, Suba, as well as her collaborators, groups like The Thievery Corporation that brought an electronic feel to her music. The album's sales soared in the United Kingdom and the United States even though only one of the 11 songs was written entirely in English (the rest were in Portuguese.) Its wild popularity brought about the release of Tanto Tempo Remixes, featuring progressive electronica artists King Britt, Rae & Christian, Da Lata, and Peter Kruder of Kruder and Dorfmeister.
Gilberto's most recent recording, Bebel Gilberto, was released earlier this year and evokes more of a traditional bossa nova feel, typically utilizing acoustic instruments over music production machinery. Produced by Marius deVries (Madonna, Bjrk, Annie Lennox), Bebel Gilberto maintains the artist's crossover appeal with about one-half Portuguese and one-half English selections, some pieces with an electronic feel and some with a classic acoustic feel.
The album's first cut, "Baby," written by Caetano Veloso, delivers the bossa nova one would expect of a Gilberto. Rich, warm and decidedly Brazilian, Gilberto languidly coos, "Baby, I love you." Up-tempo, energetic and mischievous, the song distinguishes the singer: "Join us and go far / And hear the new sound of my bossa nova." "Aganj," written by Carlinhos Brown, features a haunting descant by Gilberto's mother, Micha, and is a standout track even to those who do not speak Portugese. "Every Day You've Been Away," the guitar and vocal piece written by Pedro Baby and Daniel Jobim, breathily meanders, like many of Gilberto's tracks, through a story of love lost.
Gilberto wrote or shared authorship for the remaining nine of 12 songs on the record, lending a tropical melancholy akin to exhaustedly relaxing in the shade on a steamy day. "Cada Beijo" is reminiscent of Tanto Tempo with a beat that begs for its own remix. "Jabuticaba," co-written by Gilberto and Brown, is the climax of the album and, along with "Baby," makes the disc unforgettable. With the perfect Brazilian and American blend, "Jabuticaba" shows the potential for Gilberto's new bossa nova.
With this solid self-titled release, Gilberto is sure to please fans worldwide with her blend of old and new, North and South, and acoustic and electronic. She honors her heritage in Brazilian music while adding her own North American slant. As Gilberto says in "O Caminho," "No quero mais seguir / Um s caminho."
"I don't want to follow a single path."
-- Sara Gallagher
Bebel Gilberto and special guests
Thursday, Aug. 26, 9 p.m. (doors open at 8 p.m.)
Gothic Theatre, 3263 S. Broadway, Englewood
Tickets are $26.25 plus service fees and are available at www.ticketmaster.com
Call 303/788-0984 (Gothic Theatre) or 520-9090 (Ticketmaster)