Momento is Bebel Gilberto‘s third solo album, and proves her most personal to date. While it finds her continuing an exploration of her style through collaborative songwriting efforts, this appears to be the first record where creative veto is totally hers.
As far as the home listener is concerned, its ideal role is a sultry accompaniment to a summer’s day, with the windows thrown wide open. Lazy, muted brass, languid guitar lines, softly pulsating rhythms and Gilberto’s own sultry alto tones – all combine to beguile the mind and soothe the troubled soul.
Yet Gilberto proves equally adept at handling the up-tempo stuff when it comes along. Os Novos Yorkinos and Caçada are both strongly rhythmic tracks to get the hips swinging, and though the vocals are low in register they command each track easily. Bring Back The Love is more obviously club bound, a good example of the ease with which Gilberto manages to traverse musical styles. To boot its deep house beats help present an impassioned message.
For as she indicates on her own website, Gilberto seems distressed with the state of today’s world, and aims to make it easier with an album that encourages the listener to ‘live for the moment’. In the up-tempo music it succeeds, casting off the shackles to breathe in the summer air. Yet in the slower music an introspection remains, and the singer’s smoky tones find themselves ideally paired with a solo cello in Close To You.
The songs are mostly Bebel’s own, with three covers added – a softly exotic version of Cole Porter’s Night And Day, the lilting Tranquilo, written for her by Rio producer Kassin, and the aforementioned upbeat Caçada, penned by her uncle Chico Buarque. All relatively undemanding, but delivered with plenty of style.
The songs are intimate in both vocal delivery and instrumentation, their mood carefree and subtly uplifting. Occasionally however the mood does verge on the soporific, which is fine if the record’s on as background music but requiring more effort to appreciate Gilberto’s intimacy. This raises the coffee shop issue briefly, but rest assured Gilberto is a cut above your average latte accompanist.
No, where Gilberto transcends that label is in the occasionally sumptuous colour and orchestration of this album, placing you in a warm haze for forty five minutes. As a way of cajoling summer to arrive earlier, it works well.