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Amalia Hoje

Hoje

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Album Review

A phenomenal success that held the number one spot on the Portuguese charts for a half-year's time, Amália Hoje is a one-off full-length effort by Hoje, a supergroup comprised of Nuno Gonçalves and Sónia Tavares of the Gift, Fernando Ribeiro of Moonspell, and solo artist Paulo Praça. Gonçalves is the leader of the group, which he not only assembled but also produced. Tavares, Ribeiro, and Praça are featured as vocalists. The concept of the project is to recast the songs of fado legend Amália Rodrigues in a modern light. Most of the nine songs on Amália Hoje were written by French songwriter and producer Alain Oulman, and many are well-known classics in Portugal, if not elsewhere. The album is impressive on many counts. The concept itself is noteworthy, with the release of Amália Hoje coming ten years after the death of Rodrigues, which makes it something of a tribute to her legacy. The production work of Gonçalves is perhaps most impressive. The overall album has a consistent tone — a dark and slightly edgy feel, not unlike the music of the Gift — yet each song is unique and different from the next. The musical arrangements are complex and often massive, incorporating the London Session Orchestra, a choir of vocalists, piano, synthesizer, and drum programming. The featured vocalists take turns, often teaming up with one another on a particular song; indeed, only three of the nine songs are solo features. One of the solo features, "Gaivota," is a standout performance by Tavares, who channels the spirit of Rodrigues with aplomb over a haunting musical arrangement of strings, piano, and drum programming. It's the drum programming more than anything else that gives Amália Hoje its sense of modernity, and "Nome da Rua," a solo feature for Praça with a broken-beat rhythm track, is the most elaborate in this regard. "Formiga Bossa Nova" is also rhythm-heavy and perhaps the most stylish song on the album, featuring all three vocalists as well as laser-like synthesizer effects. As aforementioned, each song on Amália Hoje is distinct in its own way, while the overall album has a consistent tone that's reminiscent of Gonçalves and Tavares' work in the Gift. The end result is an album that's both edgy and stately, drawing from Portuguese musical tradition yet at the same time pointing toward the future. It's no wonder that the album was such a phenomenal success, for on the one hand it pays homage to the legacy of Rodrigues and on the other retains much of what makes the Gift one of Portugal's greatest homegrown alternative musical acts.

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Amalia Hoje, Hoje
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