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World Music CD Reviews Europe

Cristina Branco

By Ernest Barteldes
Published March 16, 2007

Ulisses
Decca 6198

PORTUGAL

“There was never the intention of making a Fado record,” Cristina Branco has said about this album. Instead, she chooses to travel the world through song, taking on Joni Mitchell’s “A Case Of You,” offering an acappella remake of Maria Bethania’s “Sonhei Que Estava Um Dia Em Portugal” (I Once Dreamed I Was In Portugal), and surprising listeners by adding music to Paul Eluard’s French-language poem “Liberté.” Her willingness to go beyond tradition brings welcome results, such as in “E Por Vezes” (Sometimes) and in “Fundos,” a wordless tune in which she improvises freely with the backing of guitar, bass, piano and a discreet electronic backbeat. Fado is not forgotten, and you can almost smell the bacalao when she sings to the verses of Camoes in “Oh! Como Se Me Alonga De Ano Em Ano” (Oh! It Grows Longer Each Year), whose words speak of the disillusionment of one's spiritual search.