Friday, December 04, 2009

Cristina Branco, Ulisses, Universal International

I have stood on more than one big lake at night, far from the lights of the city, watching the moonlight shimmering on the water. I want to say that her voice on this shimmers, like moonlight on the black expanse of a big lake, or on the sea, more appropriately. Of particular interest: an English-language rendition of Joni Mitchell's A Case of You, which Dona Cristina makes into a fado even if it's not sung in Portuguese. There are some excellent fados sung in Portuguese as well, along with some wonderful Portuguese guitar playing by Custódio Castelo in what is, for the most part, the stripped-down accompaniment of tradition, although this CD is not, strictly speaking, traditional.

Overall, it is lighter and, in my feeling, not quite as gripping as some of the fado CDs I admire from, say, Mariza or Amália. But that isn't necessarily a criticism. Diversity is good, even in fado, and it can be nice to enjoy the intrinsic beauty of fado singing without the pain, or as much of the pain anyway, characteristic of the form. Muito bom.

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