Being both the niece of Brazilian singer-composer Chico Buarque and the Grammy-nominated daughter of bossa nova king João Gilberto and Brazilian singer-composer Miúcha means that having expectations of musical greatness thrust upon you is inescapable.
Bebel Gilberto seems not only to know this all too well, but to revel in said knowledge. On “All In One,” her latest solo recording, the New York-born chanteuse delivers a level of supple vocal artistry that validates those expectations while joyously seducing in the manner of a woman in love.
Gilberto’s debut solo project, titled “Tanto Tempo,” was released in the United States in 2000 by Six Degrees Records and has sold over one million copies worldwide. Performed mostly in Portuguese, “All In One” marks another debut of sorts, as it is her first recording with Verve Records.
The twelve-song set released on September 29, 2009 highlights her self-assured singing style and weaves it through infectious tempos that one moment ripple with samba-infused heat and the next, refresh like a splash of cool ocean. Six of the songs were written or co-written by the recently-married artist, with several tracks recorded in her home studio.
That sense of intimacy is felt throughout her lyrics. Gilberto muses on a number of themes, such as love, nature, and life moments, while seeming to genuinely enjoy herself.
Sung in English, the titular track, “All In One,” is mellow and sunny, liable to send listeners in search of sand to feel between their toes. “Cancao de Amor” is performed in Portuguese, and evokes a lazy, hazy Summer afternoon spent lounging along a tropical shoreline, remembering past lovers.
“Forever” is a sultry song that seeps into the consciousness like morning-after sunlight through gauzy curtains. Her work on “Far From The Sea” is as nuanced as red wine; the love affair between the richness of the piano and the subdued sweltering of her vocals makes listening seem somehow voyeuristic.
Gilberto perfectly balances the tranquil sensitivity of these offerings with sweatier, more energetic pieces like “Chica Chica Boom Chic,” to which musician-producer Carlinhos Brown lends his artistic talents, and “Bim Bom,” on which she is joined by Daniel Jobim (grandson of Grammy-winning Brazilian music legend Antônio Carlos Jobim.)
Other musical luminaries with whom Gilberto keeps company on this effort include keyboardist Didi Gutman of Brazilian Girls, guitarist Masa Shimizu, and John King of the Dust Brothers.
The album’s most affecting aspect is how ably and smoothly Gilberto’s vocals swing between smoke-heavy huskiness and shiny-as-polished-brass upper register notes, bringing to bear the best of the tonal extremes at which she excels.
This project marks a slight deviation from more electronica-laced sounds that have played a bigger part in some of her previous efforts and lent her works to seemingly unending chillout remixes by artists from Nuspirit Helsinki to Thievery Corporation.
“All In One” does revisit some familiar territory with regard to themes, however with its profusion of playful beats and musical arrangements rendered with the delicacy of falling raindrops, the album succeeds in making the trip a pleasant one that listeners will be glad for having taken.