Lina_ Raül Refree – Lina_ Raül Refree

Album Review | Glitterbeat Records | Review by Allan Wilkinson

Portuguese Fado is one of the most distinctive styles of singing in the world today, loaded with passion, grace and fire.  I was a good two and a half songs into this album before it occurred to me that something was missing, the presence of the traditional guitar accompaniment, or perhaps even the string quartet or even the full orchestra.  Instead, we hear piano and synths, which brings to the music a different kind of atmosphere.   For the first time, the Portuguese singer Lina joins forces with contemporary producer Raül Refree to create a new soundscape for these ancient songs, which rather than modernises them unnecessarily, brings a new sense of atmosphere and feel to the ‘Queen of Fado’ Amália Rodrigues’ notable repertoire.  It’s not until the album closer “Voz Amália De Nos” that we hear the more familiar guitar, accompanying the only song on the album not from Rodrigues’ repetoire, which is an almost tongue-in-cheek reversal of styles.

The delicate piano accompaniment and effects work together quite effectively on “Gaivota” and “Quando Eu Era Pequenina” and in a way, reminds us of some of the work Isao Tomita did for Debussy and Mussorgsky in the mid-1970s.  Having done something similar with Rosalía on her Los Angeles album, though in the Flamenco style, Raül Refree approached this project with the same focus on detail.  In both cases, the essence of the music remains intact and if anything enhances the passion, rather than dilutes it, with the voices on both projects taking centre stage throughout.  With each of the songs selected by Lina, this album serves as both a homage to her musical heroine, whilst at the same time broadening the appeal of Fado amongst new listeners.

Choice Track: Gaivota (NSR 493)