Astrud Gilberto sang “The Girl From Ipanema” back in 1963 on her first trip to America, and the next year it became a Top Ten hit. Her own singing career was launched, with her child-woman voice full of Brazilian cool; she might not have hit every note she was supposed to hit, but it was on purpose, and she sounded and looked hot, so it was okay. Astrud made such well-titled albums as Look to the Rainbow and A Certain Smile, A Certain Sadness (all the best album covers and titles were back in the mid-’60s) before splitting up with bossa nova legend Joao Gilberto — who went on to father Bebel Gilberto with someone else — and striking out on her own. She remained a star in Brazil for 15 years, but she never really attained the same level of fame up here as she did with that one iconic song.
I really wish this album would change all that for Astrud Gilberto. She still sounds the same as she did forty years ago, and she’s turned into a pretty damned good songwriter in a laidback sorta way. Sure, her English isn’t perfect, and sure, she goes for that soft sappy stuff that all Brazilians like better than we do. But she’s wonderful on uptempo stuff like “E So Me Pedir” and blues pieces like “In Spite of the Odds” and “Red Umbrella” (sounding a lot like Marina Lima here). And you just can’t beat her pocket-samba cover of Burt Bacharach’s “The Look of Love.” Plus, she’s an animal lover who dedicates her disc to her cat. I mean, come on: that’s adorable.
This is not for everyone’s ears — Creed fans need not apply, for example, and anyone with more than two Rollins Band albums better not pick this up. (Is there anyone with more than two Rollins Band albums? Oh, yeah: my brother Jeff.) But everyone else might wanna give it a shot. Astrud G’s the hottest 61-year-old thing going!
Astrud Gilberto: http://www.astrudgilberto.com