À Flor Da Pele
A new fadista to my ears, Joana Amendoeira sings original fados in a classic style that hails back to the era before Amàlia Rodrigues. Her fifth CD, À Flor da Pele offers less gusto than her contemporary Mariza’s work, but as much sensuality and beauty as heard on Mariza’s and Cristina Branco’s recordings. Joana’s vocals caress every note and she embodies the poetry she sings with broad strokes. Her band includes Pedro Amendoeira on Portuguese guitar, Pedro Pinhal on classical guitar and Paulo Paz on double bass and the music the quartet performs possesses a sepia tone veneer and a whiff of nostalgia.
Although I don’t understand Portuguese, I feel the longing Joana sings about in the song, Apelo. The following song, Amor O Teu Nome conjures the happiness of lovers with its lilting Portuguese guitar and Joana’s spritely vocal interpretation. And each song, opalescent and strung together like pearls, reveals the different stages of love. The description for Como Se Fosse Uma Flor, “These are the stories Fado sings on this voyage of love, its mystery rises in a dream as well kept as a tight-closed flower.”
Fados are not easy to describe because the success of these Portuguese songs depends on how well the fadista interprets and conveys complex emotions to her listeners. Similar to flamenco and American blues, musical technique combines with an ability to convey the deepest of human emotions. Today’s fado singers find their inspiration in Portuguese poetry of both contemporary and classic poets.
The most beautiful voices treat the poetry of others as their own, colored by their experiences. In this way, the fadistas resemble actresses embodying the roles they play. If a singer desires to succeed, she must embody the subject of the fado. Joana Amendoeira could be described as a consummate actress with her convincing vocals and sensual delivery.
Fans of Mariza and Cristina Branco will want to add Joana Amendoeira’s À Flor da Pele to their collection. She might be new to my ears today, but after listening to this recording a few times, I am certain the fadista will quickly end up on my list of favorites.