Friday, March 16, 2007

GILBERTO GIL, THE GREAT Brazilian singer-songwriter who pioneered the '60s Tropicalia movement, endured political exile and later became the nation's minister of culture, recently embarked on an unprecedented American tour showcasing just voice and guitar. Though recorded several years ago, the newly released CD "Gil Luminoso" takes the same tack, shedding a soft, intimate light on more than three decades of songwriting and social activism.

Any retrospective of Gil's extensive, multifaceted and difficult-to-navigate discography is welcome, but this one is particularly so because the uniformly lean arrangements prove alluring and revealing. Alluring because the emphasis is almost always placed on Gil's soulfully tender voice, as well as his now light-fingered, now percussive acoustic guitar work. Revealing because the 15 songs gathered here display different facets of Gil's recordings over the years, the sensual and the spiritual as well as the political and the philosophical.

While the music is its own warmly seductive reward, the Portuguese lyrics, as Tracy Mann's informative liner and song annotations point out, are often as thoughtful as they are poetic, from the personal musings ("I Need to Learn How to Just Be" and "Spiritual Retreats") to the political broadside ("Your Love"). Gil wrote or co-wrote all the songs on this collection, and to judge by these performances, they share an honesty that still moves him deeply.

-- Mike Joyce

Appearing Sunday at Lisner Auditorium.

Listen to an audio clip of Gilberto Gil

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