Lisbon is a city that inspires storytelling in its citizens. Storytelling that is famously melancholy, wound around a city whose native music is also famously melancholy. Yet on Canção ao Lado (“The Song Next Door”), its 14 vignettes are sung from the perspective of a fictional woman named Deolinda who is not melancholy at all. The album is fado music that grins at moody aesthetes and applauds practicality and humour. “I apologize to all the wise men,” run the words to one song. “I only aspire to mastering the art of planting potatoes.” The usual fado theme of tragic love becomes an ode to a lumpen tuba player, and the tragedy is transformed into comedy when Deolinda’s embarrassed friends tell her that she should be paying attention to modern electroacústica, and her parents urge her to pick up the “Goldberg Variations”. Ana Bacalhau sings with fadista boldness, and the instruments around her have a native lightness. It’s a charmer of an album—the thing to put on after an overdose of Mariza.
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