Much to the regret of his fans, Joao Gilberto did little recording in the 1990s. But he makes a triumphant return to the studio with his 2000 release Joao Voz e Violao, the bossa nova icon's first album since 1992's João. This time, Gilberto doesn't do anything slick; there are no keyboards or strings, and he steers clear of overdubbing. Gilberto, in fact, has no band; he accompanies himself on acoustic guitar, singing and playing in real time and keeping things delightfully intimate. While the CD isn't overly ambitious, Joao Voz e Violao isn't the predictable affair that it could have easily become. It isn't hard to envision an A&R guy urging him to record an album of nothing but Antonio Carlos Jobim and bossa nova standards that have been done to death over the years, but Gilberto, to his credit, doesn't inundate listeners with obvious choices. Yes, he revisits "Chega de Saudade" and "Desafinado," but he also turns his attention to Brazilian composers who range from Caetano Veloso ("Caracao Vagabundo") and Gilberto Gil ("Eu Vim da Bahia") to Ernesto Lecuona ("Eclipse") and Bororó ("Da Cor do Pecado"). Gilberto turned 68 in June 1999, and on Joao Voz e Violao, his delicate, caressing voice continues to hold up nicely. Produced by Caetano Veloso, this CD is a welcome addition to Gilberto's catalog.
AllMusic Review by Alex Henderson