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Written in fRoots issue 353/354, Nov/Dec 2012

Nomis NMCD06 / Westpark WP 87235 (2012)

Not the most likely combination, Swedish traditional music and fado, but Stockholm Lisboa Project continue to pull it off on their third CD, and with a new singer. The excellent Liane, after living for several years mid-way between the two countries in London, has returned to Portugal, where she continues to sing. To replace her can’t have been easy, but they’ve recruited the equally fine and attractive Micaela Vaz, who lives in Aveiro and has a solo career as well as being a member of SLP.
      The band – it’s certainly no short-term project now - make no historical links between the two musics, simply giving their reasons as “a curiosity of each other’s music traditions”. Violinist Sérgio Crisóstomo was a member of the folk band At-Tambur back in Portugal, but has lived in Sweden for the past decade or so. Simon Stålspets, who was in bands including Kalabra and Svart Kaffe, occasionally blows goat horn or willow flute but his main instrument is one of Christer Ådin’s extended-bass-strings Nordic mandolas, which have developed a considerable role in the Swedish folk music revival. In form they have a degree of kinship with the cittern-like Portuguese guitarra, but Stålspets takes his own approach rather than imitating the guitarra’s distinctive techniques. The third main instrumental input isn’t exactly characteristic of either tradition: Filip Jers, who’s becoming one of the world’s leading harmonica players, here uses diatonic, chromatic and bass versions.
      It all flows naturally, with appealing directness and elegant, calmly uncluttered simplicity of sound. Traditional Portuguese folk songs, fado lyrics to melodies by José Afonso, Vitorino, Alain Oulman and others, including mellifluous group vocals on the acapella Senhora Do Almurtão, Swedish tunes both traditional and by Stålspets, and a confluence of sources on the final track Havet Stormar, a song that Micaela was touched by years ago on a Lena Willemark recording and has coupled with the Portuguese traditional En Tu Puerta.
      Just now, when there’s a lot of good fado and Swedish roots music about and being heard outside their countries of origin, SLP opens a window letting fresh air into both.


© 2012 Andrew Cronshaw

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