Dois Selos e um Carimbo

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Fado is not normally a musical genre that one associates with happy-go-lucky cheerfulness. Usually, it conjures up the mental image of a beautiful and sad-eyed woman singing her romantic torment on a small stage in a close, smoky bar to the accompaniment of a Portuguese guitar and (if she's good) approving shouts of fadiiiiiiiista! from her audience of half-drunken men. But Deolinda's approach to the music is entirely different, and it's absolutely delightful. Drawing equally on fado tradition, the morna music of Cape Verde (a former Portuguese colony), and modern singer/songwriter fare, Deolinda produce a style of music that owes audible debts to its forebears without ultimately sounding much like any of them. The center of the band's sound is the sweet, crystal-clear voice of Ana Bacalhau, though the two guitarists and bassist who back her up contribute brilliantly as well. There is hardly a weak track on this album: "Se uma Onda Invertesse a Marcha" opens the program with delicate gorgeousness, sounding like a lullaby for grownups; "Passou Por Mim e Sorriu" is a sweetly swaying waltz; "Quando Janto em Restaurantes" is sung in a sassy 6/8 meter; and "Entre Avalcade e As Portas de Benfica" is quiet and intensely beautiful, displaying all the virtues of traditional fado (heartbreaking tunefulness delivered with tightly controlled emotion) without ultimately sounding very much like traditional fado. "Uma Ilha" ends the program in a soft and bittersweet mode, casting the more lighthearted fare that preceded it into a slightly different light. It would be hard to overstate the charms of this album; here's hoping for many more like it in the future.

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