Words by Gonçalo Frota
By the time Ana Moura released her fourth album in 2009, Leva-me aos Fados, she had gone as far as she could down a particular road. If nothing else changed in her music, she would have been cursed to repeat the same record over and over again. Not that there would have been any harm in that, since her standards were high and solid. Her singing had grown surprisingly strong in the last few years, surpassing the more naive approach of her first two efforts, and she had successfully broadened her fado wide enough for it to include subtle Portuguese folk intonations and the saxophone of Tim Ries, part of the Rolling Stones touring band. But the time had come for her to take a step forward. And in order to do so, she needed to break loose from the past.
Fear not: Desfado is not a radical turnaround in Moura’s career. But it is the bold record everyone expected her to deliver after her collaborations with the Stones and Prince. Having proved what a tremendous singer she can be when keeping within the tight rules of the genre, the time had come for some risk-taking, profiting from Moura’s pop qualities. After parting ways with her long-term producer Jorge Fernando, Moura took a whole new direction with Desfado. She still records a couple of traditional numbers, but the majority of the album is written by younger songwriters, such as Deolinda’s Pedro da Silva Martins, António ‘fado meets bossa nova’ Zambujo and pop/rock artists like Virgem Suta, Manel Cruz, Miguel Araújo and Márcia Santos. She also adds a more international appeal with Larry Klein’s production and her take on Joni Mitchell’s ‘A Case of You’. ‘I Dream of Fire’ features jazz legend Herbie Hancock on electric piano. So, while stretching Moura’s reach, Desfado does not disappoint or mislead fado lovers. It’s simply a cry for freedom, beautifully crafted.
TRACK TO TRY: Desfado
(On Decca Records)