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Bebel Gilberto Bebel Gilberto Review

Album. Released 2004.  

BBC Review

'the album would have been far better if this superstar had been encouraged to be more...

Chris Moss 2004

Sao Paulo's clubs are throbbing to exciting new electronica fusions and the favelas are in a frenzy over hiphop, but in the gentle jazzy world of Bebel Gilberto, everything is sunny and serene.

Only the occasional cheeky synthetic bleep is allowed to trouble the classic bossa blend of breathy vocals, whistling woodwind, fast but subdued percussion and quirky horns. This combination, and the massed ranks of musical friends gathered to back and produce Bebels second disc, is more than effective. Songs like "Aranjú" and "O Caminho" are musically quite daring as well as delightful, with the tempo turned up a notch and instruments - including her voice - given the free rein to rise above the gentle ripple of sensual, soothing sounds.

But this record is, for all the wealth of talent and Brazil's bossa legacy, pretty bland stuff at times. Too controlled and safe to really stir, too slick to suggest Bebel herself is feeling anything.There might have been just too many marketing minds involved in what is a self-consciously internationalist record they even got celeb snapper Mario Testino to take the cover shots ('Super thanks Mario', as the sleeve notes say). If papaJoao Gilberto was one of the originators of bossa and a formidable innovator, Bebel cannot honestly be described as anything more than a practitioner and traditionalist.

Brazil is sexy again, and it's little wonder that this record has been lauded in the mainstream media and consumer glossies. Bebel Gilberto is truly beautiful, and she satisfies a certain stereotype. She also fits into that tidy, tired pigeonhole where wine-drinking, dinner party-giving MoR fans cuddle up to Norah Jones and Diana Krall. Expect girlie duets and stadium love-ins in the near future. Also, Bebel can sing well in English (bilingual opening track "Simplesmente" is gorgeous) but she slips into this foreign tongue too often the album would have been far better if this superstar had been encouraged to be more Brazilian, more modern, and more experimental.

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