It's been years since Madredeus and its singer Teresa Salgueiro made it big with the success of Wim Wenders' film Lisbon Story. Since then, she's come a long way, reaching star status outside of Portugal and gaining a huge international audience. By any measure she is a superb chanteuse, a wonderful interpreter of songs who can evoke a myriad of images with her marvelous voice.
La Serena is her third solo album since she left Madredeus to pursue her solo career. Still, this album owes much to Madredeus, as it is a collection of songs that she heard while traveling the world with this renowned band. It was Pedro Ayres Magalhaes, the Madredeus founder, who suggested she should work with ensemble Lusitania on this project, while also producing it. On this album Salgueiro stretches beyond the guitar sounds of her previous band, adding classical strings and Brazilian rhythms to give these songs at the same time a quiet, yet stormy expansiveness.
The choice of songs is impressively diverse, including material running from Amalia Rodrigues, Cesaria Evora, Chavela Vargas, Edith Piaf to Marisa Monte, Caetano Veloso, Nat King Cole. Salgueiro is singing with a new maturity and enormous broadness of expression which only seems to underline the enormous power she is capable of. Her interpretations of these songs is up there with the best of them, taking them to unexpected directions and heights. There is a remarkable playfulness on tracks such as "Amanha," "Velha Infancia " and Veloso's "Leaozinho " and you will find yourself playing them over and over. Her takes on Edit Piaf's "La Vie en la Rose," Lucio Dalla's "Caruso" and Nat King Cole's "Unforgettable" are superb and captivating.
On each of these songs Salgueiro is instantly recognizable, arousing the deepest of emotions. Her voice is the crowning touch - she soars and floats above the instruments. Rarely has a voice carried more beauty, refinement, tenderness and love than hers on this album. This music speaks to the soul, undaunted by the man made barriers of language and culture. All of that is enhanced by the excellent group of musicians who join her on La Serena. The ensemble Lusitania is absolutely excellent and supports the vocals at every turn. They serve more than just as an anchor for her expressive vocals and have their moments when they are playing Portuguese marches.
Records such as La Serena are a rare find, the kind of a record that appears once every 10, 20, or 50 years. It shows the different side of a singer with clearly quite diverse tastes. The overall effect is universal and ethereal. La Serena comes close to defining what a perfect record should sound like.
La Serena; Velha Tendinha (instrumental); O Namoro; Leaozinho; Vuelvo Al Sur; La Vie En Rose; La Vai Lisboa (instrumental); Nome de Rua; Amanha; Se Todos Fossem Iguais a Voce; Caruso; Paloma Negra; Velha Infancia; Mar Azul; Estranha Forma de Vida; A Casa da Mariquinhas (instrumental); Avec le Temps; Unforgettable; Somewhere Over The Rainbow (instrumental).
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