António Zambujo: Rua da Emenda

September 8, 2015

zambujo2Streetcar Named Desire

Listening Post 11. Move over Judy Garland. The most captivating trolley song in 75 years has arrived on a 15-track album from Portugal’s leading male fado singer. Pica do 7 (7’s Conductor) tells of a shy woman who rides the Number 7 tram daily just to be near the conductor of her dreams (video 1). It’s romantic, poetic and authentic—the uniformed musicians on board are from the Lisbon Transport Authority’s band. Like the tram, fado is in a golden age of open-windows, letting in outside breezes and also more instruments. Adding to time-honored guitars—classical, Portuguese and bass—Zambujo’s arrangements selectively use accordions, mandolins, clarinets and trumpets. Though Pica has a woman’s viewpoint, most of the songs on Rua da Emenda focus on awkward or unlucky men. Other album highlights include the more traditional Fatalidade (Fatality, video 2) about love ending, and the fuller instrumentation of Valsa de um Pavão Ciumento (Waltz of a Jealous Peacock) about one that can’t begin. Crossing the fado frontier are Pantomineiro (Tongue Twister), with a bossa nova heart, and the lush horn and string balance of Valsa Lisérgica (Psychedelic Waltz). The album has one track in Spanish (Zamba del Olvido) composed by Jorge Drexler and one in French (La Chanson de Prévert) by Serge Gainsbourg. Zambujo’s tram is packed, but it’s a great ride. (WorldVillage/harmonia mundi.)




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