The Songlines Essential 10: Portuguese Fado Albums

Songlines’ Editor-in-chief Simon Broughton chooses his 10 favourite Portuguese fado albums


New Queens of FadoVarious Artists

New Queens of Fado (ARC, 2012)

This is a good introduction to the female fadistas of the new generation, including Mariza, Ana Moura, Cristina Branco, Mísia, Carminho, Katia Guerreiro, Mafalda Arnauth and others.


Cristina Branco KronosCristina Branco

Kronos (Universal, 2009)

Cristina Branco is one of the most prolific of the new fado artists with a dozen albums since her debut in 1997. This is a sort of concept album of songs about time. Branco regularly includes the piano of Ricardo Dias in her band.

Carminho FadoCarminho

Fado (EMI Portugal, 2009)

The debut album from the youngest of the new fado stars. Carminho was born into a fado family, and here she sticks to the traditional style of performance and writes some of her own lyrics. A very impressive album featuring some of Portugal’s top guitarists.

Carlos do Carmo Um Homem na CidadeCarlos do Carmo

Um Homem na Cidade (Universal, 1996)

A Man in the City, a fado concept album originally released in 1977, is Carlos do Carmo’s most celebrated work, settling poems about Lisbon by José Carlos Ary dos Santos to music by various composers. It even includes a song about Lisbon’s trams ‘O Amarelo da Carris’.

Custódio Castelo The Art of Portuguese Fado GuitarCustódio Castelo

The Art of Portuguese Fado Guitar (ARC Music, 2011)

Aside from the singer, the other essential artist in fado is the guitarra (Portuguese guitar) player. Custódio Castelo is one of the best contemporary players who has worked extensively with Cristina Branco, Ana Moura and others.


Mariza TransparenteMariza

Transparente (World Connection/EMI, 2005)

Mariza is without doubt the current fado star and, for me, this is her stand-out album with classic fados alongside new songs written specially for her like ‘Montras’ and the title-track about her ‘African grandmother’ in Mozambique.

Ana Moura Leva-me aos FadosAna Moura

Leva-me aos Fados (World Village, 2009)

With her fraternisations with The Rolling Stones and Prince, Ana Moura, with a gorgeous smokey-tinged voice, is perhaps the fadista with most cross-over potential. Leva-me aos Fados is her stand-out album to date. A compelling mixture of traditional and modern.

Clube de Fado A Música e a GuitarraMário Pacheco

Clube de Fado: A Música e a Guitarra (World Connection, 2008)

Named after the prestigious fado venue in Lisbon’s Alfama district run by Portuguese guitarist Mário Pacheco, this CD and DVD features stars of the new generation including Mariza, Camané and Ana Sofia Varela. A Top of the World in #46.

Ricardo Ribeiro Porta do CoraçãoRicardo Ribeiro

Porta do Coração (EMI, 2010)

Female fado singers seem more exportable than male ones. Camané is the most celebrated of the men, but Ricardo Ribeiro is rather more characterful – he’s been likened to the quirky Alfredo Marceneiro who died in 1982. This is one of the best fado albums of recent years.

Amália Rodrigues BustoAmália Rodrigues

Busto (EMI Portugal, 1962)

The most celebrated name in fado history in Portugal and abroad. There are many Amália compilations, good and bad, but one of the remastered versions of this seminal album is the best you can get.

This article originally appeared in Songlines issue 98, March 2014. Subscribe to Songlines.