Irreverance, wry wit and social rebellion are not characteristics usually associated with Fado, Portugal’s melancholy national song. Yet Deolinda, the quartet led by vocalist Ana Bacalhau has blossomed by combining lusty tunes rooted in the sound of Fado with frothy and even downright caustic contemporary lyrics.
This album – a follow-up to Deolinda’s Songlines Music Awards nominated debut – pokes fun at Portugal’s old dictatorship in its title. Dois Elos Um Carimbo translates as Two Stamps And A Seal, a reference to the “beaurocratic love between receipts and forms” of that time.
With two guitars supported by acoustic bass, Deolinda has the right set-up to perform traditional Fado alongside faster-paced and poppy numbers. And with Deolinda’s sensual and dextrous mezzo, the band is more than capable of producing a ravishing, traditional sound, as on ‘Passou por Mim e Sorriu’. However, even if a lack of Portuguese stops you from getting the joke throughout, it is obvious the true heart soul of Deolinda lies in impish humour and tunes that inspire dancing rather than crying. There is the sea shanty-style singalong of ‘A Problematica Colocacao De Um Mastro’, the wistful elegance of ‘Ignaras Vedetas’ and the perky pop song ‘Um Contra O Outro’ (click here to watch on YouTube).
Throughout, Bacalhau is ably accompanied by her two guitarist cousins, Pedro Da Silva Martins and Luis Jose Martins, whose pert playing adds to the feeling of adventure on the record. This is an album for a modern, democratic Portugal. Lisbon is now a port to party in and with Deolinda’s sunny soundtrack, that is more than possible.