Três Bairros: O Turno da Noite

Men at Love 

Listening Post 231. Love is the magician that pulls a man out of his own hat, but how many get lucky when they try to force the alchemy? Consider the countless stories—tragic, hilarious, pathetic, triumphant—of guys who make the effort. To that list add the debut album of Três Bairros, artists of Portuguese tradition (mostly but not exclusively fado) who serve up passion in gardens, cafés, streets and windows, with success or failure fueled by timidity, timing, subterfuge, jealousy or distraction. The trio’s formation resulted from a strategic retreat: Ricardo Gama and João Correia, teacher and student at the conservatory in Santarém (an hour up the Tagus from Lisbon) envisioned an instrumental album and started interviewing prospective band mates; when they encountered vocalist Guilherme Madeira they sensed the chemistry was right and changed direction. Of the 13 songs on O Turno da Noite (The Night Shift), eight are ensemble written. Grilo Coceirão (Pesky Cricket) is a tale of thwarted courtship wrapped in a delightful dance of voice, classical and Portuguese guitars (video 1) and Miúda do Café (Café Girl) is the world-stood-still moment of a common man dreaming extraordinary things (video 2). A missing element defines the wee-hours title track, showing men cleaning up as well as puffing up in the absence of feminine company (video 3). Dream or nightmare, Velhas Bairristas (Neighborhood Matrons) is set in a decidedly surreal fight club (video 4). The trio’s gems stand tall amid renderings of songs from some of Portugal’s most renowned lyricists and composers, including the great poet Fernando Pessoa and celebrated fado artist Carminho. Aside from women, the album features two other personified objects of affection—Lisbon and its river. The boys of Três Bairros choose their muses well and channel the inspiration by pulling love stories not from hats but out of their incandescent imaginations. (Ocarina Music)

Três Bairros: O Turno da Noite
Ricardo Gama: Portuguese guitar
João Correia: Classical guitar
Guilherme Madeira: Vocals

Três Bairros is Portuguese for “three neighborhoods,” reflecting the home towns (Mértola, Sintra and Santarém) of the trio’s members.

Opening line of the review borrowed from Ben Hecht: “Love is the magician that pulls man out of his own hat.”

 

Grilo Coceirão/Pesky Cricket
Lyrics: João Correia/Music: Três Bairros

(from the Portuguese lyrics)
Between the flower pots on the terrace/
There lives a Pesky Cricket
For the past few days/He’s been courting you in the evening
And that Dragonfly/Buzzes in your in the ear
That you’ll never be mine/That you can do better

Behind the chili peppers/There’s a kiss lurking
Right next to the rose bush/Where we arranged
An hour when you could show yourself without the bugger noticing
Don’t go when that garden pest is flitting nearby/Be on your guard

Pay no attention to what he says/That crazy Centipede
It will only make sow confusion/Like too much foot for too little sock
In Dona Aurora’s backyard/Walks a hyperactive Cat
So much shedding hair/I kicked him in the…

Oh this girl
For whom I have such affection/Leaves the yard annoyed
Look at my devotion/How often I tell her
That I’m a penniless singer/That I would tear my shirt for her
In a yard in Santarém

 

Miúda do Café/Café Girl
Lyrics: Guilherme Madeira/Music: Três Bairros

The light beckons “good morning” and I vaguely recall/That I always skipped geography class, as I struggle to find my way
I enter Café Central half asleep and order a coffee at the counter/I want to wake up from this state…

Is it just my impression or did anyone else notice/That when you appear the whole world stops
A subtle breeze blows your hair/And you smile in slow motion…

Whoa! I’m not sure what’s happening/Where are you taking my feet, Oh, café girl
Oh, I don’t know where this is going to end/I can’t stop thinking
About you

I get up, untangle my hair, put out my cigarette, convinced/That I can take you to see the world without leaving this café
But I suddenly sense that you’re with someone, I just can’t see who it is/And this shakes my courage…

Whoa! I’m not sure what’s happening/Where are you taking my feet, Oh, café girl
Oh, I don’t know where this will end/I can’t stop thinking
About you

 

Turno da Noite/Night Shift
Lyrics: João Correia/Music: Três Bairros

Come along/Walk in my footsteps
I’ll show you/A life of shards
We live in the shadows/Because the world doesn’t want to see us
We clean up the bitterness/On the frontiers of womankind.

So let’s live the night shift/Where we trade dreams for temptations
We drink life in a bottomless glass/And sell our souls for new sensations.

My love, I’ll make you laugh/I know what makes you smile
Come on/Let me in

So let’s live the night shift/Where we trade dreams for temptations
We drink life in a bottomless glass/And sell our souls for new sensations.

 

Velhas Bairristas/Neighborhood Matrons
Lyrics: João Correia/Music: Três Bairros

A day in autumn/The date doesn’t matter
The old neighborhood women sing/About bags at the door
May life abuse us/Sooner or later the madmen
Beg us not to go

In their corners
Women in tears/Who call for me
Screaming in chorus/About lasting relationships
They fight each other/In the village square

And the neighborhood’s matrons/Always scheming
Throw insults/In the middle of the arena
And the men on the sidelines/Sing, with voices weary
Love songs in a fado way

 

 


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