Bebel Gilberto Bebel Gilberto

Bebel Gilberto is to contemporary Brazilian music what Norah Jones is to jazz. She’s not the most innovative artist to come out of her genre, but she has managed to captivate the ears of an international audience with a sound that’s exotic, soothing and mildly complex. The eponymous follow-up to her 2000 debut, Tanto Tempo, doesn’t stray too far from the original concept: sentimental lyrics in English and Portuguese, bossa nova with an electronic touch, and of course, Giberto’s dreamy voice. Her experiences of touring with a live band are evident here as the arrangements sound more pronounced and stripped down. Gilberto’s music is still best suited to cocktail lounges and dinner parties, but never in a way that could be reduced to sonic wallpaper. The emotion of her personality is deep-felt and the weaving of her voice into multi-layered harmonies is hypnotic, especially on tracks like "Winter” and "O Caminho”(which she originally wrote for Cesaria Evora). The mood is mostly of romantic melancholy, but the shift in accompaniment, from cinematic jazz to chilled-down house to traditional guitar modes, keeps things from sounding predictable. There’s also bits of cheeky humour, like the opening track "Baby,” as well as an ode to Afro-Brazilian, Candombélé spirituality in the intoxicating "Aganjú” — elements fans will enjoy, but won’t necessarily convert as many as she did the first time around. (Six Degrees)