As the breeze drifts with intent overland from the sea, so too the lamentations and soul searching of Ana Moura, the Portuguese fado singer whose brand of melancholy, with a voice as sable and moonless as the chiaroscuro from which the words are born, reaches every corner of the globe.
Moura Encantada by Manuel de Freitas cements the expectation of Moura -the youngest fadista to be nominated for a Dutch edison Award – as a chanteuse of exceptional range, a balladeer of depth and feeling, wringing the words of every ounce of angst and introspection.
Moura changes tact suddenly with Fado Dancado, proof that she can swing with the best of them,and with a more muscular input from producer Larry Klein, with whom she worked on recent albums, including the platinum selling Desfado.
Moura’s strength starts with the richness of the voice and the way she bends it effortlessly around Angeloe Freire’ Portuguese guitar, but she has an analogous range which is malleable with texture and pace.
Lilac Wine, for example, is the only song of 14 impeccably crafted numbers performed in English, but in Moura’s safe hands there is not a consonant out of place, although one senses that the influence of fado’s distinctive heritage has a cosmetic appearance here.
Her backing band, including some famous names in Portuguese music – Carlos Te, Samuel uria, jorge Cruz, Edu Mundo and Sara Taveres – are as cohesive as superglue, and their reciprocation with Moura culminates in a perfect platform for the terse verses: Agore E Que E and the sublime Cantiga De Abrigo.
Though regarded as a form of singing which lends itself to metamorphosis, the polished fado on Moura is an age away from what I have heard in cafes in the tight mesh of streets in the Bairro Alto in Lisbon.
But Ana Moura is first and foremost an interpreter, with a voice which traipses freely and unhesitatingly through tradition, and her adherence to the manner and form of fado, which is not in the least rigid or constrained, is more in the sentiment of the lyrics, laced throughout with melancholia and longing.
On the page the songs (O Meu Amor Foi Para O Brasil and Tens Os Olhos De Deus) can read like poems, but Moura’s gift is to give them wings, and in doing so she imbues the theatricality and the gravitas of Jacques Brel. Sublime, from beginning to end.