The fado is the Portuguese music par excellence. And I should add: it´s a feeling, a way of understanding life, a deeply felt expression of the inward voice of these people. If we try to find a synonym for the word “fado”, we will be talking about homesickness, nostalgia, melancholy, etc. But all of them are terms that don´t fit into the complexity of the original one.
The fado is displayed through the music by means of the melodies, the lyrics and, above all, the performances of the musicians and singers. The voice is usually feminine. We may search for the reason in the sociocultural context: womens’ situations in Portugal have been linked to the Land (the work in the fields) and the Sea (the loneliness generated by the emigrational phenomenon). And that voice has distinguished performers throughout time. Maybe Amalia Rodrigues is the major reference in this sense.
But, how has the fado evolved? Nowadays we can find well-known artists capable of paying tribute to the fado, but renewing the musical postulates not in a breaking-up way. Let’s mention two big names: Madredeus and Dulce Pontes.
The article´s title gives us away: This time we will talk about Dulce Pontes and we will do it in two chapters. Today we will review her discography, and the next episode will consist of a list with the most outstanding themes and the specific reasons for listening to them (at least) once.
Dulce Pontes has one of the most privileged voices all around the world, and her professional path as an artist shows us that she also has talent, taste and a multicultural open mind.
However, her beginnings wouldn´t let us foresee that her career was going to be this way. The reason: “Lusitana”, her first album, was a vehicle for taking advantage of her participation in the Eurovision Festival. The result: commercial and rather flavourless tunes, average musical arrangements, and the perception that the album was a mere and ordinary musical formula. Only the highlight “Oh! barca branca” anticipated the course Dulce would take in her following album.
“Lagrimas” was her particular homage to Amalia Rodrigues. It was a selection of traditional fados (most of them were already performed by Amalia). Some people accused Dulce of being an imitation of Amalia. But Dulce’s voice offered arguments so as not to be criticized. It was full of energy, feelings, and it showed registers that pointed in the best direction. The versions of some classic themes were simply superb.
“A Briça Do Coraçao”, a live album, revived the best moments of “Lagrimas” and added some new songs in a similar stylistic line.
It will be “Caminhos” the opus in which Dulce Pontes starts to appear as a composer (excellent, sometimes). The musical arrangements (very smart, indeed) left apart the Portuguese guitar in favour of the piano and the strings. The thematic variety confers it a special shine and distinction.
“O Primeiro Canto” follows up with the artist’s evolution. The piano and orchestra are replaced by the Spanish guitar, giving more intimacy and introspection to the songs and avoiding any reference to fado traditional musical arrangements. Nevertheless, you can feel that it is fado, a more cosmopolitan or universal one, but holding the essence. I think this album is a must: a true masterpiece.
“Focus” is Dulce´s latest album. Here she sings classic themes composed by Ennio Morricone. Really great, with haunting memorable moments, in which Dulce’s voice is in her highest splendour. But it´s not fado anyway, though it´s a beautiful experience.
Ok; I must recognize that I miss the logical continuation of “O primeiro canto”. Let’s wait.
Related Article: Sweet Dulce (II): Track by track