Taking a Chance
My biggest surprise when I first played this new release by Bebel Gilberto was the acoustic sound used in the album. Moving away from electronic samplers so predominant in Tanto Tempo, Bebel Gilberto decided to show another side of her musical heritage. She is definitely more mature in Bebel Gilberto and even proves she’s got great talent in song writing, too. She co-wrote nine of the 12 tunes in this album. Produced by Marius de Vries (you might know him from his work with Madonna, Björk and Annie Lennox), Bebel Gilberto is a nice departure from her 2000 debut album for Ziriguiboom, Tanto Tempo.
In addition to writing several songs here, Bebel Gilberto also recorded music by Daniel Jobim (Antonio Carlos Jobim’s grandson), Pedro Baby Gomes (son of Baby Brasil and Pepeu Gomes) and the classic Caetano Veloso “Baby” (here with English lyrics by Os Mutantes). That song opens the album. In Bebel Gilberto’s own words, she picked that song because “it speaks so loudly to my heart,” and since this record is a personal statement about Gilberto herself, the song choice is certainly befitting. The mood of the album is very much close to the arrangement for “Baby”: soothing vocals, acoustic instrumentation with very subtle electronics. Nevertheless, Gilberto seems to know just when to add more spice to her music. That is the case for Carlinhos Brown’s “Aganjú” (that’s Xangô in Yoruban). The beat and percussion are hypnotic. Lending a hand in the background vocals on the track we find none other than Gilberto’s own mom, Miúcha. Clearly the most Bossa Nova influenced track in the album, “All Around” is beautiful. Gilberto explains that the song “reflects exactly the pain” she was going through when writing the song. It’s no wonder “All Around” is her favorite track and might easily become yours, too. With Portuguese lyrics, “River Song” is a tribute to the mountains, rivers and landscape of Rio de Janeiro. The flute solos are awesome. The sad and longing lyrics in “O Caminho” are highlighted by João Donato’s beautiful arrangement and accompaniment. Another great moment in the album comes with the collaboration between Bebel Gilberto and Carlinhos Brown. With “Jabuticaba” we find innocence and an irresistible melody. It helps, of course, that Carlinhos Brown added some gorgeous solos of tabla and Indian banjo. Finally, closing the album, the lullaby “Next To You” brings hope to a better world.
Bebel Gilberto takes a chance in moving away from the electronic instrumentation in Gilberto’s previous work, but the risk is well taken. Gilberto is a strong singer (each day she sounds more like her mom, too) and delivers her material with passion. When you hear Bebel Gilberto, you can experience her love, sadness, hopes and dreams in the music she makes.
À Deriva Discos ADVA0003 (2006)
- Baby (Caetano Veloso – Os Mutantes)
- Simplesmente (Bebel Gilberto – Didi Gutman – Marius de Vries)
- Aganjú (Carlinhos Brown)
- All Around (Bebel Gilberto – Masaharu Shimizu – Marius de Vries)
- River Song (Bebel Gilberto – Didi Gutman – Marius de Vries)
- Every Day You’ve Been Away (Daniel Jobim – Pedro Baby Gomes)
- Cada Beijo (Bebel Gilberto – Guy Sigsworth)
- O Caminho (Bebel Gilberto)
- Winter (Bebel Gilberto – Didi Gutman – Marius de Vries)
- Céu Distante (Bebel Gilberto – Pascal Gabriel)
- Jabuticaba (Bebel Gilberto – Carlinhos Brown)
- Next To You (Bebel Gilberto – Didi Gutman – Marius de Vries)