Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Ana Moura: Leva-me aos Fados

Colin Irwin reviews Ana Moura's Leva-me aos Fados.
Mick Jagger – who has recorded and sung on stage with Ana Moura – has described fado music as Portugal’s version of the blues, though its overriding aura of tragedy is perhaps more akin to opera.

If the great Amália Rodrigues was the undisputed fado queen, singing with a raw intensity every bit as dramatic as Édith Piaf or Maria Callas, her spiritual heir Mariza spectacularly introduced the Rodrigues legacy into the 2000s, texturing her crushing power with style and elegance.

Ana Moura is a mellower inheritor of this deeply evocative legacy, providing a more subdued yet nevertheless affecting link in that same proud and colourful chain. Her main collaborator is Jorge Fernando, who once played alongside Rodrigues and, with the brilliant Custódio Castelo, not only adds some of the lovely fluid acoustic guitar work that paints busy backdrops behind Moura’s mournful voice, but is also the album’s producer, musical arranger and predominant songwriter.

Neither Fernando nor Moura have previously been afraid to veer from fado’s venerated café history as the expressive voice of Portugal’s underclass – apart from Moura’s exploits with The Rolling Stones, there were previous dalliances with pop and rock and enticing talk of a Prince collaboration. But the three acoustic guitars/one voice format of this fourth album pitches it at the pure heart of the fado tradition.
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