Gabriela Pepino – Let Me Do It (2013)

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Hailing from Belo Horizonte, Brazil, soulful jazz singer Gabriela Pepino offers a heady mixture of Etta James and Amy Winehouse on Let Me Do It, sounding at once retro and somehow completely in the moment.

The learned, worldly Pepino, a Berklee College of Music alum, comes by this smart synthesis honestly — and yet Let Me Do It is never slowed by an academician’s penchant for overthinking things. The album moves with a smooth confidence that’s rooted in its earthy attention to what the heart says, not the mind.

Produced by Pepino, with arrangements courtesy of Gilvan de Oliveira, the album never settles into a rote pattern. So, perhaps as expected, we have the deep soul of “Change and Headache,” a perfectly attenuated take on Antonio Carlos Jobim’s 1956 gem “Someone To Light Up My Life,” and the flinty blues of “Dose of Scotch.” But Pepino also adds dark new emotions to “I Don’t Wanna Fight,” the Lulu song most famously covered by Tina Turner on the soundtrack for 1993’s What’s Love Got To Do With It. And she moves with a smart grace through “My Dream is You,” delving into a shag-carpeted 1970s pop sound alongside the Sesi Minas String Orchestra — and pulling it all off with a wink and a smile.

Pepino is joined throughout by de Oliveira on guitar, Adriano Campagnani on bass and Lincoln Cheib on drums. Recorded in her native Brazil, Pepino’s Let Me Do It was mastered in New York City by Grammy-winning engineer Tom Coyne.

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Nick DeRiso

Nick DeRiso

Nick DeRiso has written for USA Today, American Songwriter, All About Jazz, and a host of others. Honored as columnist of the year five times by the Associated Press, Louisiana Press Association and Louisiana Sports Writers Association, he oversaw a daily section named Top 10 in the U.S. by the AP before co-founding Something Else! Nick is now associate editor of Ultimate Classic Rock.
Nick DeRiso
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