Mariza: Mundo

Nenad Georgievski By

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Even if you don't understand a word of Portuguese, the enormity of Mariza's gift is immediately and intoxicatingly evident upon first hearing. Armed with an alluring voice and arresting charismatic presence, Mariza is one of the great exponents of the Portuguese fado music and much more than that. Arriving several years after her strictly traditional take on fado with Fado Tradicional (EMI Music Portugal, 2010), Mariza's Mundo is a place where music is a pure expression of emotion, but far from the strict confines of the tradition she is a part of.

This wonderfully executed and produced album exudes careful craft and consideration. Mariza has always had a unique approach to her repertoire which has enabled her to engage the past of fado and without compromising her integrity to challenge the shape of its future. She is no stranger to broadening this genre's scope as on her previous records with various other influences such as African and Brazilian music, jazz, pop and classical. After all, while fado is intimately a part of Portuguese identity and culture, its sources come from various corners of the world. Mundo is a transcontinental journey that is impressively expansive. Her panoply encompasses songs from her native Portugal, Argentina, Cape Verde and Spain. Guided by producer and collaborator Javier Limon, who provides sensitive and thoughtful direction, she refines these songs with great care and emotion, and makes sure that the whole is much more than the sum of its parts. The beauty and relevance of Mariza's work truly lies in the subtle details she brings to fado music. As a result, there is a nice conjunction of joy and sadness, yearning and hope, which draw equally from the traditional and the modern.

From the slow burn opener, the fado classic "Rio de Magoa," the rising ardor of "Melhor de Mim" to the gentle "Alma" the full range of Mariza's voice is on full display. "Saudade Solta," is an impressive blend of power and emotion bolstered by a female choir that sings over pulsing percussion. "Sem Ti" is a tender and achingly beautiful ballad. There is a plaintive and fragile quality to her vocals on this song. "Maldicao" is more of a traditional fado and sang more in Mariza's recognizably fiery style and "Padoce Ceu" with its English chorus sounds like a playful pop tune with an elegiac yet sensual melody. "Anda O Sol Na Minha Rua" is song associated with fado legend Amalia Rodrigues. While Mariza's delivery captures Amalia's characteristic tremulous voice faithfully, still Mariza sings with characteristic flair and emotional intensity that adds her own twist to the song. This is not a mere imitation but a fine tribute from one master to another. This record is consistently excellent where despite the varying dynamics there isn't a moment wasted here.

Mundo is an album that sounds like a world of music in itself. What makes this album outstanding is its inner flame. For most of the songs Mariza sings with a newly found maturity and she never oversells a lyric for effect. The careful structures and the lively and tight performances give that feel of a nearly perfect record. Mundo is a sensually charged, wonderful album that is truly a work of art.

Track Listing: Rio De Mágoa; Melhor De Mim; Alma; Saudade Solta; Sem Ti; Maldição (Fado Cravo); Padoce De Céu Azul; Caprichosa; Paixão; Anda O Sol Na Minha Rua Adeus; Missangas; Sombra; Meu Amor Pequenino.

Personnel: José Manuel Neto: portuguese guitar; Pedro Jóia: acoustic guitar; Charlie Mendes: acoustic bass guitar; Alfonso Pérez: piano and keyboards; Israel Suárez “Piraña”: drums and percussion; Joel Pina: acoustic bass guitar on “Maldição” and “Anda o Sol na Minha Rua”; Rui Veloso: piano on “Meu Amor Pequenino”; Javier Limón: guitarra flamenca em “Alma”; Carlos Leitão: viola em “Maldição” e “Anda o Sol na Minha Rua”.

Title: Mundo | Year Released: 2016 | Record Label: Nonesuch Records

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