March 1997

Paulo Braganca
Amai
Luaka Bop

The Fado tradition of Portugal is one of the world's entrancing musics, still a peculiar refreshment for those weary of the usual western musical flavor. But traditions can always use a bit of healthy iconoclasm. The limber, deceptively pure-sounding Portuguese singer Paulo Braganca pushes the envelope of his fado lineage on Amai (Luakabop/ Warner Brothers 46334; 42:00). On the surface, this music is pleasantly askew. The songs adhere to asymmetrical structures and trace odd chord changes, while the production takes abrupt left turns. But the music is sumptuous, too, rebellious in terms of its stylistic stretch-and its lean towards musical traits from Brazil and Africa, areas where, after all, the Portuguese influence is felt, as well as the hip hop nation. Braganca's music ends up sounding like a woozy cultural admix, at once familiar and yearning towards something new. Chalk up another one for Luakabop, theenterprising label run by David Byrne andYale Evelev, who have unearthed somegreat earthly delights in the past few years.

Originally published in March 1997
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