Bebel Gilberto - Agora review: A mature, sincere and often surprising listen

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Brazilian artist Bebel Gilberto made Agora after several personal tragedies, including the deaths of her parents, legendary Brazilian musicians João Gilberto and Miúcha.

Her first album in six years, it’s a mature, sincere and often surprising listen. Featuring organic and sultry Brazilian rhythms, it moves from funky and dissonant upbeat songs to poignant and heartfelt ballads.

The album is performed entirely in Portuguese, but you don’t need to speak the language to be moved by Gilberto’s stripped-back honesty, such as on the melancholic Essence. Similarly, in the lounge-style first single from the record, Deixa — which translates as “Leave” — Gilberto repeatedly sings “Meu amor, meu amor, meu amor” — or “my love, my love, my love” — a painful yearning for the loves that she lost.

Producer Thomas Bartlett has worked with artists such as Sufjan Stevens and St Vincent, and Agora carries the same cynicism as can be found on St Vincent’s albums — especially on track Cliché, a love song with a jokey side that reveals the cynicism behind clichéd romance. It’s an album that is at times transportive and dreamy, yet firmly rooted in the painful reality of healing after loss.