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Desfado

Ana Moura

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iTunes Editors’ Notes

While some fado singers stick close to the traditional mix of overtly sentimental lyrics and diva-level singing paired with romantic Mediterranean melodies, soft rhythms, and expressive acoustic lead guitar, Ana Moura looks further afield. This young singer has sung with The Rolling Stones and collaborated with Prince, and here she again creates musical bridges. The three songs sung in English on her fifth album are David Poe’s “Thank You," a standout version of Joni Mitchell’s “A Case of You,” and her own modern pop tune “Dream of Fire.” Helmed by noted jazz and pop producer Larry Klein, the album has a fluid blend of fado’s signature sharp-toned Portuguese guitar with touches of electric keyboards (Herbie Hancock appears on “Dream of Fire”) and a jazzy rhythmic underpinning of acoustic upright bass and light percussion. Nonetheless, a majority of the songs are written by present-day fado composers. And Moura’s dazzling voice—as dark and multifaceted as a good bottle of red wine—ensures that fado lovers will be well served too. Other highlights include the title track and the shimmying “Ate Ao Vereo.”

Customer Reviews

Wow!

In the US, Ana Moura is perhaps the best known of Portugal's Fado singers, at least since Amália Rodrigues died in 1999. Her latest album (her fifth, released in February 2013) will ensure that her popularity on this side of the Atlantic becomes wider yet-- not only was it produced by Larry Klein and largely recorded in the USA, it also contains two songs in English (on one of which she has the collaboration of Herbie Hancock!) and Moura's ability to combine traditional fado with influences from the US and the world is as close to perfect as is imaginable.

I had the opportunity to hear her sing a number of the fados on this album to a sold out concert in Seattle during the first week of March, and immediately purchased the CD-- the concert was wonderful, but the album is better. Moura sings Novo Fado ('new', or modern, fado), as do some other great modern fadistas such as Mariza and Deolinda; this is a version of Portuguese fado that breaks free of many of the form's traditional restraints. Moura's voice, a deep and sultry contralto, is powerful: at times almost plaintive, other times fierce and angry (in 'Thank You"), she draws you into an intimacy that is traditional to fado, even when what she's singing isn't traditional fado.

Most Americans, if they know of it at all, know only the traditional fado popularized (and exemplarized) by Amália Rodriguez, in which the singer, the fadista, is accompanied by only a man on guitar and another on the 'guitarra portuguesa', a traditional instrument not unlike a large lute (and yes, the musicians are traditionally all male, although both men and women sing fado). In these fados, the themes are almost universally sad-- 'fado' may be translated as fate or destiny, but in the songs one's fate is rarely good, and is to be met with feelings of longing, of sadness, but also with a certain stoic fatalism. Women singers lose their lovers to the sea, or to other women, or to the immigration/guest worker programs which have long sent Portuguese men to work in Spain, France, and throughout Western Europe. Male fadistas are no more cheerful-- they lose (or never get) the women they love, or must leave them for long periods. Although it's said that fado originated as a stylistic form in the 1820s, yet it is easy to hear the Moorish influences-- historically relatively recent, as the last of the Moorish conquerors weren't driven from the Iberian peninsula until the end of the15th Century; the guitarra portuguesa looks and sounds much like the North African oud, and it's equally to easy to hear Moorish influences in the vocal style as well. There are exceptions-- some marvelous, upbeat songs-- but they are exceptions.

New fado can be quite different. Composers and singers no longer feel constrained to limit the accompaniment to only the two traditional musicians-- percussion, keyboards, even entire symphony orchestras are perfectly acceptable. There may be strong influences from jazz or French chanson or even what used to be called 'folk-rock' (this album includes a beautiful cover of Joni Mitchell's 1971 song, 'A case of You'). The roots may still be firmly planted in Portuguese fado, but other forms have been allowed to be grafted on.

That is clear in this album-- Moura's 'A Case of You' manages to sound both like fado and like Joni Mitchell's original recording of the song at the same time, leaving me to want to listen to the 1971 'Blue' or the 1974 'Miles of Aisles' album, just to hear if Mitchell will now sound to me like a fadista. Moura brings a sense of longing, of what in Portuguese is called 'saudades', to the song, without changing its upbeat tempo or the vocal intonations in any way that I can identify.

If you already know Ana Moura, then the quality of this album will come as no surprise. If you don't, prepare to be surprised-- even if you can't understand the Portuguese lyrics, Moura has the power to move you with her singing (and each Portuguese song has an English translation in the CD's liner notes). And, if you haven't heard her before, the good news is that after listening to this CD you will have the opportunity to her more: all four of her previous albums are available in the US.

Enjoy!

Excellent

This may be Ana Moura's best work yet and a great introduction to modern fado. Even if you don't understand Portuguese, you need no translation of the beauty of her voice in "Ate ao verao" ("Until summer") or the guitar in "Fado alado" ("Winged fado") or "A fadista" ("The fado singer" [should be noted that other meanings of fadista include prostitute or low-class woman]). There seems to be an American folk feel to this album, which does, after all, include a cover of a Joni Mitchell song (A Case of You).

Biography

Genre: World

Years Active: '00s

Fado vocalist Ana Moura was born in the historic city of Santarem, on the Tejo River north of Lisbon. As a girl, Moura was steeped in fado and its traditions, brought up in a family where the music was valued and loved, sung at home and at family gatherings. Though she experimented in adolescence with pop and rock music, singing in local bands, Moura's commitment to fado never waned. Even in pop shows, she would include some fado in the repertoire. Moura's shift in emphasis toward her national music...
Full Bio
Desfado, Ana Moura
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