Seventeen years removed from the release of their debut studio album, Sounds from the Thievery Hi-Fi, the duo of Rob Garza and Eric Hilton have found the appropriate moment to fully embrace the romanticism of bossa nova — the Brazilian sound that originally brought the pair together to form Thievery Corporation. Garza and Hilton have enlisted the support of five guest female vocalists and several of their most gifted friends (including U.N.K.L.E. drummer Michael Lowery) to record the 13-track Saudade LP and pay homage to a genre that Thievery Corporation have continually flirted with throughout their discography.
The follow-up LP to 2011’s Culture of Fear and 2008’s Radio Retaliation, both deeply political and socially conscious albums, Saudade, with its spirited innocence, marks an intended change of course for Garza and Hilton. In sharp contrast to the incendiary delivery of longtime Thievery Corporation collaborators See-I, the vocals on Saudade arrive like a late evening spring breeze. Both the instrumentals and female lyricism reflect a laid-back Brazilian lifestyle; Elin Melgarejo’s Italian language overdubs on “Sola in Citta” pull the listener in like hushed pillow talk, while Shana Halligan’s vocals on album closer “Depth of My Soul” (one of three English-language tracks on the album) are reminiscent of soulful Afro-Cuban jazz and would make for an amazing intro into a sexy James Bond bedroom shoot.
The album does contain a few glimpses into Thievery Corporation’s trip-hop past. “Nos Dois” is heavy on that underwater reverb and sci-fi glitch. Garza and Hilton are more deliberate in practicing within (and adding to) the canon of bossa nova rather than attempting to redefine its aesthetic for a 21st century dance floor. However, this passion project’s singles and featured artists will add further context and theatrics to the broader Thievery Corporation live experience.
Essential Tracks: “Sola in Citta” (feat. Elin Melgarejo), “Nos Dois” (feat. Karina Zeviani)