With the release of her debut album, Tanto Tempo in 2000 and a remix volume issued a year later, Bebel Gilberto introduced the world to an important new voice. Previously the singer had appeared alongside some of the most respected artists of our time, including Caetano Veloso and David Byrne, and cutting edge experimenters like Deee Lite's Towa Tei and Thievery Corporation. In the wake of the success of Tanto Tempo, Gilberto, the daughter of João Gilberto and Miúcha, had a cultural phenomenon on her hands. Mindful of tradition, Bebel nevertheless has her eye fixed squarely on the horizon.
On Bebel Gilberto, recorded by producer Marius de Vries (Madonna, Björk, Annie Lennox), Gilberto reveals herself as an artist with a sound and voice all her own. Thus, the title: "I decided to call the album Bebel Gilberto because I think it's important to make a statement with my name," Gilberto says. A truly international affair, Bebel Gilberto was recorded in New York, London, (with an entire string section!) Salvador (Bahia) and Rio de Janeiro. Yet it all reads as a whole -- a portrait of an artist continuing to grow and find her way, with confidence and curiosity.
"The new album is a reflection of what I've been going through in the years that I've been working and traveling since Tanto Tempo," Gilberto explains. "I think that I kind of grew up inside of myself, in terms of being a songwriter. On the first album, I was pretty open minded; whatever I did, I didn't know how people were going to react," she explains. "The problem is always the second one: You think, 'Oh, God, if they liked that, I don't know if they're going to like this.' So I really tried to repeat the feeling-the magic-of the first album, but I also thought that I had to move to a more grown-up stage."
One way in which Gilberto asserted her developing maturity was through her songwriting. Although she shared credit for half of the songs on Tanto Tempo, Gilberto wrote or co-wrote no fewer than 9 of the 12 songs on Bebel Gilberto. Of the remaining selections, one track was written by the multifaceted composer-performer Carlinhos Brown, and another by Daniel Jobim and Pedro Baby, scions to Brazilian musical heritages comparable to Bebel's own.
The overall sound of the album is a departure from Bebel's previous work. Predominantly based on acoustic instrumentation with subtle touches of electronics, the arrangements manage to give a simultaneous impression of sophistication and simplicity. They provide a perfect framework for Bebel's unique voice, which sounds warmer, more intimate and more soulful than ever.
Now that her second album is complete, Gilberto looks forward to hitting the road again, returning to the cities and countries that have already embraced her music and also striking out for new territories. "I'm really excited," she says, "because it's actually a continuation of the new Bebel that was born four years ago inside myself. I am honored that people look forward to my music, and I always have that inside my heart. It's such an inspiration to keep doing it. I want to be like Alberta Hunter, you know? I want to sing until I'm 90 years old!"