The old adage, attributed to Charles V, that goes, "I speak Spanish to God, Italian to women, French to men and German to my horse," should be amended to include "Portuguese to the terminally sad." Although Portuguese culture is largely a joyous one (especially in its mutated South American form), their most popular music is possibly among the most emotionally devastating sounds on earth. Broad and brooding, fado is typically sparsely arranged instrumentation dominated by an arresting voice (usually female) lamenting love lost and the crappy circumstances that led to the heartbreak. This 13-track compilation focuses on but four of those singers -- Cristina Branco, Mariza, Amalia Rodriguez and Mafalda Arnauth -- all female, all extraordinarily gifted practitioners of the style. Modern without losing sight of the rich tradition of which they are a part, this is a tidy introduction to a truly wrenching style.
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