Sara Tavares – Xinti

xintiBorn in 1978 Sara Tavares grew up in Portugal but is originally of Cape Verdean descent. It was not until 2006 with her album release “Balance”, that I first discovered this versatile and expressive singer. All the songs were written by Tavares herself, and she also played most of the instruments too. It should be no surprise to hear that Tavares was only 16 years old when she won two of Portugal’s most prestigious TV music contests.

Her musical style of Gospel, Funk and Soul bridges the two cultures of Cape Verde and Portugal, while as a young artist, she draws inspiration from a range of contemporary music styles too. Her music can be at times melancholic and reflective, while also being upbeat and energized. It’s this that makes the artist one of the most dynamic that Portgual has produced in recent years.

Three years since ‘Balance’ and Tavares is back with another album “Xinti“, which although needing a few more listens than the instantly accessible “Balance”, represents another fine chapter in this artists career. One of the strongest songs on the album, “Di Alma” brings her spectacular voice and a funky bassline together.

You can purchase the her latest album from Amazon here.

Let’s start our journey right here

Fado GuitarWe start our journey with an album that is still affecting me more than 2 years after I purchased it. As much as when I became entranced by Antonio Carlos Jobin’s ‘the composer of desifinado plays’ . It has a similar simple style with beautiful acoustic playing, but it does not derive its influences from the soft Samba sounds, but the more melancholic depths of Portuguese Fado.

Fado music has a strong reflective component to its narrative and its name is drawn from the Latin word “fatum” meaning fate, and the inexorable destiny that nothing can change! It is a music that looks back on history with awe, held strong in the belief that everything was wonderful once upon a time, and now it’s all gone wrong.

Having said that, what this album manages to achieve, due to the dexterity and skill of Mario Pacheco’s finger plucking and the ensemble’s collective mastery in their own instrumentation, and where so many other Fado albums might leave you reaching for the gun and a family photo, is how it throws glorous rays of light over a music that can become a little depressing after prolongued exposure. What’s also impressive is the collection of soloists that have been pulled together and feature on this album; Mariza, Ana Sofia Varela and Rodrigo Costa Felix arejust some of the heavyweights on board for the show.

Mario Pacheko himself is a master of the Portuguese Guitar, an instrument with origins in taken from the Western European Cithern and comprised of 12 steel strings with a sound more akin to a harpsichord than the classic guitar we all know and love . Compared to the sunny tones of Modeste or the meditative Afel Bocoum, the Portuguese guitar has a much colder edge which is why it compliments Fado music so well, adding even greater historical distance to the music’s lyrical content, and the past it reflects on.

The album you can discover this is, ‘Mário Pacheco – Música e a Guitarra‘ and audiophiles will not be disappointed by the recording quality of the performance, despite being played to a live audience. It also comes with a DVD of the entire concer which is simply magical.

If you buy just one Fado music album in your life, make sure it’s this one.