The acclaimed young fadista Ana Moura claims influences as varied as Nina Simone and Marvin Gaye, and has shared stages with Mick Jagger and Prince. But on her solo albums she generally sticks to the verities: a 12-string Portuguese guitar, a conventional six-string guitar, a bass, and her achingly lovely voice belting out fados both new and old in a style that draws deeply on tradition while incorporating subtle melodic and rhythmic innovations in a seamless, unprepossessing way. What's newest and most modern about her songs is the lyrical shift; where older songs from the fado tradition reflect the more subservient role of women in earlier Portuguese society, the contemporary compositions that Moura sings are informed by the greater independence women enjoy today. "In matters of the heart," Moura says, "we face our feelings in different ways and the ways we tell our story are different." The feelings themselves are still pretty much the same, however. Songs like "A Penumbra," "De Quando em Vez," and "Leva-me aos Fados" all deal with the particular brand of romantic longing that is particular to this genre: a dark and bittersweet sense of loss and regret. The recurring theme is not "I love you" or "Please love me," but instead something along the lines of "Our love will never be possible, so I'm going to stand in this smoky bar and sing my heartache." Every song on this album is gorgeous and richly emotional without being bombastically emotive, and the rhythmic and thematic experiments -- a tango rhythm here, a strutting and defiant backbeat there -- only serve to deepen and enrich the tradition to which Ana Moura is clearly devoted.
AllMusic Review by Rick Anderson