Her father João is held up as one of the great legends of bossa nova. Bebel Gilberto, of course, is far too young for such a distinction. But few contemporary Brazilian artists have won the hearts (and ears) of so many American music fans as she.
To be sure, since her 2000 debut solo album Tanto Tempo, her sultry, inimitable vocal style, eclectic songwriting and alluring arrangements have galvanized a legion of devotees, this publication among them. She’s also collaborated with the considerable likes of Seu Jorge, Towa Tei and Mark Ronson.
Her captivating live performances play no small part in that reality. So it was virtually an inevitability that she would at last make a live recording; and indeed, the Bebel Gilberto Live @ The Belly Up EP will be released this September 29. It’s Ms. Gilberto at her most musically stripped down (just her and guitarist Masa Shimizu), raw and visceral.
“I feel completely naked listening to such untouched live tracks,” she confesses. “Recording some of my favorite songs wrapped only with acoustic guitar has shown me how unique these moments can be.”
Most striking is her stark, haunting cover of the Radiohead’s outlander classic “Creep,” which BlackBook premieres here. No surprise, she makes the song all her own – no longer quite so maudlin and anguished, but instead oddly enchanting, almost erotic.
“It’s a very truthful version for me,” says Gilberto, “and it only came after many late nights of singing the song alone.”
Just like an angel…