BEBEL GILBERTO: All In One (Label: Verve)


Musically, Bebel Gilberto is regarded as Brazilian aristocracy. The daughter of the legendary Joao Gilberto and his second wife, Miucha, Bebel has already carved a niche for herself with a trio of beguiling albums – of which, the last, ‘Momento’ , began the process of breaking her to a wider audience. This new LP – ‘All In One’ – is Bebel’s debut for the legendary Verve label and it’s evident that the Universal subsidiary clearly wants that trend to accelerate and it seems they’re doing that in two ways. The first is to make a subtle comparison with her father’s first wife – Astrud. Though it’s usually acknowledged that the first Mrs. G had limited vocal ability she had an endearing charm that made her a worldwide star on the back of the 60s bossa nova boom. She too recorded for Verve and now the 21st century Verve execs create art work for Bebel that is a clever pastiche of classic Astrud Gilberto covers – most notably the seminal ‘Beach Samba’ album. The link is almost subliminal – but it’s effective. Secondly, though we’re told that Ms. Gilberto had full control of the music on the album – much of it recorded at her own pace in her own studio – it’s obvious that the Verve people made some clear demands. Obviously, they wanted plenty of easy-paced Brazilian bossas and gentle summer sounds but they also wanted some bigger moments which they could use as a launch pad. The most obvious “big moment” is a version of Stevie Wonder’s ‘The Real Thing’ and to make it bigger it was produced by Mark Ronson and features the Dap Kings. I’m not so sure it really works. The light vocal is quite at odds with the crashing drums and the whole thing lacks cohesion. A better departure from the traditional Brazilian sounds is a cover of Bob Marley’s ‘Sun Is Shining’. Sung in both Portuguese and English, producer Didi Gutman seems to understand quite clearly what Ms. Gilberto’s about and he allows her to do it. There are though much better tracks on the album and, unsurprisingly they are the Brazilian pieces. Her father’s ‘Bim Bom’ and Robertinho Brant’s ‘Far From The Sea’ are both superb while the self-penned title cut is a wonderfully intimate, summer love song that has all the endearing charm of Astrud Gilberto’s work… and that charm should be made the album’s USP – not a gimmicky, big-name collaboration.
(BB) 3/5