As Brazil's electronica scene explodes, numerous female singers are being posited as the voice of a new rhythm nation. A select few, like Bebel Gilberto, distinguish themselves with cosmopolitan styles that draw from the country's spontaneous musical traditions and subvert dance music's strictures. Twentysomething São Paulo singer/songwriter Cibelle has set herself apart in this way. On her self-titled debut, she confidently croons her way through a mélange of downtempo, samba, jazz and bossa nova flavors with enough genuine lyrical emotion to keep it all from coming off as simply showy.
As the beats -- courtesy of her producer, Apollo 9 -- roll and grind behind her, Cibelle purrs her existential lyrics (in English, Portuguese or both on a couple of tunes) in the languid, sensual tradition of the modern Brazilian pop chanteuse. Like her '60s-era Brazilian foremothers Rita Lee and Elis Regina, Cibelle has an alluring voice that ensnares listeners into a surprisingly complex lyrical world. Cibelle developed her writing style while recording with the legendary Yugoslavian/Brazilian producer Suba, who died in an apartment fire three years ago. In Apollo 9, she's found an equally talented fellow countryman to man the boards, and the album's eleven tracks ring with the duo's nuanced chemistry. He seems to adore buoying her voice with a vibraphone line, a murmuring guitar or even the sound of a cash register. Among the few world-music albums that have captured the global spotlight, Cibelle announces the arrival of a new-generation Brazilian vocalist, one who is equipped with both songwriting chops and a seductive vocal empathy.