Fado music from Portugal is a music of “saudade”, or longing, a mournful vocal music of resignation, melancholia and fate. It shares some features with the blues, in its lyrical content, use of modal harmonics and rubato, and in its oral transmission, but is specific to Portugal and its ex-colonies, notably Cape Verde.
One of fado’s main practitioners today is Mísia, now in her mid-60s, who has added bass clarinet, violin, accordion, bandoneon and even electric guitar to the traditional instruments of classical and Portuguese guitar, apparently shocking fado traditionalists everywhere. Likewise, her introduction of tango, bolero and other dances to adapt the fado style.
For this, her 12th album, she continues her explorations, delivering an album that “includes fado musics but it is not an album of fado”. Her voice is clear and demonstrative, her nobility of expression defining each track.
There is nothing bland or banal here, for fado makes demands of its listeners. The varied accompaniment rings the musical changes, but for some, the introduction of electric guitars and other non-traditional instruments will spoil the effect: the simpler piano and acoustic guitar accompaniment to, for example, Fado Dos 2 Pardais (Fado Of The Two Sparrows) is much more heartfelt.
Fado is an acquired taste, a music of sophistication and style, both of which Mísia abounds in. But whether it travels well is another story, for I cannot imagine myself listening to this album again, certainly not until after I have made one of my many repeat expeditions to Portugal.
Rosa Negra No Neu Peito II; Ouso Dizer; Corazon Y Hueso; Os Homens Qui Eu Amei; Lágrima; Ausência; Fado Dos 2 Pardais; Escrevo Na Pele; Destino; Pasión; Fadinho Do Anúnlcio; Santo E Senha; Preludio Para El Ano 3001; Viagem (51.51)
Mísia (v); Cláudio Romano, Felipe Felizardo (elg); Luís Guerreiro (Portuguese g); Luís Cunha (vn); Paulo Gaspar (bcl); Fabrizio Romano (p); Pedro Santos (acc); Walter Hidalgo (ban); plus guest v, g, elg. Paço de Arcos, Lisbon, Portugal, January 2019.