Paixoes Diagonais

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Portuguese singer Misia's fifth album (though only her second American release) moves away from the traditional fado of her earlier albums into a more electric and varied sound. Usually this is a really bad sign that means the artist is trying to break the U.S. pop market through a watered-down, Americanized version of what had made them interesting in the first place. Happily, this is not the case with Paixoes Diagonais, which isn't fado lite, but simply fado with a few twists. Starting with the strictly traditional title track, the album slowly adds non-traditional elements like subtle string sections, unobtrusive keyboards and electric bass. Thankfully, they avoid the chattering sequencers and electronic beats that have ruined so many so-called world albums since the '80s. Even the least traditional track here, the almost Kate Bush-like "Nascimento de Venus" is rooted in traditional Portuguese fado, and Misia's spellbinding voice remains front and center throughout the album. While perhaps not for hard-line purists, this album is a terrific introduction to both Misia and fado in general.

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