Rodrigo Costa Félix: Tempo

The Many Sides of Time

Listening Post 309. Fado and Portugal combined are like a reversible garment: Display the banner of one on the outside and the other side touches your heart. And if the music expresses the Portuguese soul, perhaps no artist expresses fado in as many ways as Rodrigo Costa Félix. In a 30-year career he has recorded albums, performed in fado houses, on television and concert stages and won the coveted Amália Rodrigues Foundation Award for Best Album in 2013. He was instrumental in mounting the first fado festivals in Morocco and China, has written or collaborated on books and documentaries, and in the past year become a fado columnist for the journal Mensagem and co-owner Fado ao Carmo, a Lisbon music house-restaurant. On Tempo (Time), his third solo album, he wrote lyrics for six of the 12 tracks and the music is evenly divided between contemporary composers and melodies borrowed from traditional fados. And like the fado/Portugal synergy, the album is double-sided: Pre-pandemic conception and release into a quarantined world. The artist ventures that perhaps it was “the right Time for an intimate, emotional record that asks us to look inside… a balm to better endure” hardship. The album’s starkest inversion is Lisboa é Assim (Lisbon Is Like This, video 1), a fado tribute to the city’s myriad music traditions and mingling cultures, launched just as cosmopolitan reality became lockdown dream. Several other tracks address love’s darker turns—pain, despair, silence, concealment, delay. The melancholy is acute in A Sangue Frio (In Cold Blood, video 2) and meditative in Mais Que Tu (More Than You, video 3). Redondilha (Roundabout, video 4) flirts with contentment, while the title track reminds us that life and love are works in progress (video 5). Whether you wear its fado emblem facing inside or out, the many sides of Tempo will keep you rapt and warm. (Fado World)

Rodrigo Costa Félix: Tempo / Time
Rodrigo Costa Félix: Vocals
Henrique Leitão: Portuguese guitar
Miguel Ramos: Classical guitar
Paulo Paz: Double bass

Guest musicians
Tiago Machado: Piano
Pedro Jóia: Guitar
Jon Luz: Ukulele


Lisboa é Assim / Lisbon Is Like This
Lyrics: José Fialho Gouveia/Music: Luiz Caracol

(From the Portuguese lyrics)
Lisbon cries fado and dances samba/
A bossa nova accent in her alleys
From Angola comes the scent of moamba/Loves that live in soap operas

Cachupa and with it the tang of morna/Mixed races come and go on the avenues
The mulata who, when dancing, unsettles/The Tagus seeing her half naked

Mixtures with more than a thousand charms/Jindungo and saffron for curry
Songs and other tastes beyond fado/Lisbon has the whole world within
It has the sea when you look out the window/In the Tagus you can be everywhere at once
Paris right next to Berlin/The beauty of Lisbon is like this

On the hips, the beat of the moment/But carrying fado on the tongue
Sometimes a savory rodizio/A lure for those who crave it…

The Carioca has the best fountain/Tastes good, comes from Rio and dances samba
Café A Brasileira and in the evening/From the Bairro Alto to Alfama it’s fado

Mixtures with more than a thousand charms/Jindungo and saffron for curry
Songs and other tastes beyond fado/Lisbon has the whole world within
It has the sea when you look out the window/In the Tagus you can be everywhere at once
Paris right next to Berlin/The beauty of Lisbon is like this

To Lisbon you don’t belong by birth/From Guinea to Beijing on the same street
Chiado isn’t a jealous neighborhood/Lisbon belongs even to its outsiders

From mosque to church so many faiths/There’s always room for another
There’s always one more chair in the coffee house/Lisbon is for who all who come in goodwill


A Sangue Frio / In Cold Blood
Lyrics: Tiago Torres da Silva/Music: Pedro Jóia

I’ve lost any trace of dignity/I beg for your affection without shame
And because I loathe my loneliness/I flirt with the curse of your absence

Life’s brevity demands prudence/And asks me to return to my path
But knowing the life I foresee/I choose perversion out of innocence

Maybe in the sad hours of my hangover
There is some forgiveness, a near-death
That allows me to forget my emptiness

Turning against me like a dagger
That I have been sharpening in you, cut by cut
To kill me in you, in cold blood


Mais Que Tu / More Than You
Lyrics: Rodrigo Costa Félix/Music: Armando Machado (Fado Maria Rita)

More than you, it’s love/That envelops my soul in pain
And obscures my path/My lonely body
Dark nights without passion/Where I wander alone

More than you, it’s sadness/A tide filled with uncertainty
With neither direction nor end/The saddest verse of a fado
This muzzled cry/Of not seeing beyond myself

More than you, it’s madness/Of searching for you
Without knowing where to go/It’s losing myself in the illusion
Of finding a heart/That offers itself and asks for nothing

More than you… at last, it’s me/This enchantment that died
Without warning or memory/Passionate and wandering
I dictate in every moment/The verses of my story


Redondilha / Roundabout
Lyrics: Rodrigo Costa Félix/Music: José Fontes Rocha (Fado Isabel)

I’m out of time/I’m left with sweet illusion
I don’t have much to do/And even less passion

I lack the faith to dream/I’m left with little pleasure
I have a world to give/And even more to learn

I don’t have the strength to love/I’m left with all I love
I still have the voice to sing/And I know my name

In the absence of so many good people/I’m left with an unpacked bag
I still have the color of Lisbon/And little else to hold on to


Tempo / Time
Lyrics: Tiago Torres da Silva/Music: Ivan Cardoso (Fado Ivan)

There are words left unsaid/That I sense but do not utter
I don’t know how to forget:
There are words being born/Whenever I speak with you

For every new word/That I learn in your eyes
My body is put to the test
For Time renews itself/In the Time that I go on living

What you say… what I said/That is us becoming wiser
It’s as if I fulfilled myself
In this new boyhood/That you offer me in your lips

The words you say to me/That I never listened to before
Make you eternal
In the wrinkles and scars/I carry from the past



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