Cristina Branco: Menina

April 9, 2017

The Stuff of Dreams

Listening Post 94. Cristina Branco is a fado virtuoso but her interpretation isn’t confined to a single genre, nor is her inspiration limited to the world of music. Menina (Girl), her fourteenth album, began with a dream in which the figures in Diego Velázquez’s iconic painting Las Meninas came to life. The vision prompted her to write a self-portrait that she shared with several musicians, asking them to deliberate on her text and come up with songs. The resulting album reflects feminine sensibilities, habits and passions, adversities, mysteries, controversies—and the little girl inside every woman. In the lead track, E às vezes dou por mim (And Sometimes I Wonder), a woman looking in the mirror asks, “Could it be nobody wants me because I want too much?” (video 1). The narrator of Boatos (Rumors) poses different questions: Does she deserve her reputation—“They say I know the large beds of mansions, even though I have a tiny apartment”—and given the song’s sprightly pace does she care? (video 2a/b). Alvorada (Dawn) separates not only night from day but also phases of affection: “Love is different when dawn comes/But we relearn/In the wee hours of the morning” (video 3a/b). Menina also offers lessons on mid-course corrections in A meio do caminho (Halfway); on setting priorities in Saber aqui estar (Live in the Moment); on the power of music in Quando eu canto (When I Sing). Is it all fado? The Portuguese guitar gracefully says yes, while the piano injects lovely notes of doubt. Whatever the label, the dream-prose-song process blossoms in Branco’s crystalline voice. She said in a recent interview that she doesn’t sleep much, but it seems that when she does she makes the most of it. (Arruada/Universal Music Portugal)


Video 1: E às vezes dou por mim.


Video 2a: Boatos. Accessible everywhere except US and Canada


Video 2b: Boatos. Accessible in North America, northern Europe, Australia and New Zealand


Video 3a: Alvorada. Accessible everywhere except US and Canada


Video 3b: Alvorada. Accessible in North America, northern Europe, Australia and New Zealand



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