Bebel Gilberto, Tudo

Britt Robson

By Britt Robson

on 08.19.14 in Reviews

Bebel Gilberto’s last album was released five years ago, helmed by her then-new husband and suffused with marital bliss. They’ve since divorced, which might be one of the reasons Tudo is colored by richer, more conflicting hues of the saudade that makes bossa nova such a beguiling blend of sunny melancholy.

Exquisite melancholy from bossa nova royalty

But the visceral subtext of personal strife and hard-fought renewal is just one reason why Tudo is such a deeply affecting collection. Gilberto was in her early 30s when she broke out with Tanto Tempo by layering electronic flourishes on the bossa nova genre. Now she’s in her late 40s and harkening back to her royal roots as the daughter of acclaimed singer-guitarist Joao Gilberto. Tudo polishes the acoustic lounge style of her eponymous album from 2004, but augments it with a decade more experience.


Bebel Gilberto

American audiences will probably most treasure Gilberto’s sublime cover of Neil Young’s “Harvest Moon,” although the opening original, “Somewhere Else,” is also exquisite, from its mesh of strings, piano and seagull samples to its exposition on the fickle nature of dreams, sung in English and Portuguese. Traditionalists will swoon to her treatment of a pair of standards associated with Stan Getz — Luis Bonfa’s “Saudade Vem Correndo” and Antonio Carlos Jobim’s “Vivo Sohando,” the latter performed by Getz and her father in 1963.

There is also a sly, flirting duet with Seu Jorge (“Novas Ideias”) and, for Tanto Tempo fans, a cover of the French club hit, “Tout Est Bleu,” with Brazilian Girls pianist Didi Gutman sprinkling pixie notes. Gilberto, an impeccably impassioned control freak, weaves it all together in a comprehensible whole. Tudo, after all, is Portuguese for “everything.”