Album Title: Flor de Fado
Performer: Mafalda Arnauth
Label and album #: Magic Music 0701
Play Time:
Recorded: 2009

Cristina Branco, Mariza, Dulce Pontes. There's no shortage of leading ladies in contemporary Fado and everyone has their favorite. Mafalda Arnauth belongs on the same page. For a sample, check out this video. Flor de Fado is an unapologetically gorgeous celebration of the emotionally committed female voice accompanied by two acoustic and one Portuguese guitar plus double bass. At times there's even a piano or cello.

Despite being deeply entrenched in musical prettiness, Mafalda avoids becoming precious. She deliberately underplays that traditional studied stiltedness which leans too heavily into pathos and melancholia. Stripped of that patina, what remains is smoldering Latin song that reveals occasional ties to Brazil's Paula Morelenbaum [Berimbeau for example], albeit with a heavier emotional center. "Povo Que Lavas No Rio" shows Arnauth's artistic intelligence at work. It creates a very different statement than Dulce Ponte's version on the unforgettable Lagrimas album - as though rebuilding the tune from the roots up, always the sign of mature artistry. Flor de Fado is aptly named. It's a flower in bloom offering itself up to be admired for no other reason than being fresh and beautiful.