Bossa hits the 21st century with the debut album from Bebel Gilberto (daughter of Joao).
Nick Reynolds 2002
Some musical genres change violently in sudden lurches. Others sway and shimmy forwards, evolving so gracefully so you hardly notice. When the impeccably laid back Brazilian bossa nova decides to embrace modern technology there's no surprise it should do so ever so gently.
Bebel Gilberto has a pretty daunting musical heritage to live up to. Her father is João Gilberto, the man who invented bossa nova, and her mother is the singer Miúcha. Bebel's first public appearance was a concert at Carnegie Hall with her mother and Stan Getz when she was nine years old. So it's not surprising that shes taken a while to record this debut album. After a debut EP in 1986 shes been working and singing on other peoples records for over ten years before taking the plunge. And this album shows she was wise to wait - it's a quiet triumph, a very modern marriage of classic styles and new technology. No clattering drum machines here, but rather cunningly arranged samples and collages take you even further into a uniquely relaxed state of mind.
The opening track "Samba da Bencao" sets the tone, a dreamy selection of sax and clarinet samples and drum loops, set alongside real time guitar and traditional percussion. Tracks such as this and the startling album closer "No Return" fit perfectly alongside more traditional standards such as So Nice (Summer Samba) and Gilberto Gil's 'Bananeira. Portugese and English lyrics dovetail effortlessly together. And just when you're in danger of becoming so relaxed you might drop off altogether the mood just goes uptempo enough to keep your attention.
This album has been granted a British release just in time for the final fling of that perverse and unpredictable beast, the English summer. It's hot. You need to cool down. This album is perfect for the purpose.