Duarte’s choices won’t be quite by chance for starting and finishing his record-manifesto– the journey, long and painful, but also of achievement of liberation and anirreversible gain of conscience begins with Algemas/Manacles, much more than a symbolical presence, and it finishes with a solution, hurt but so often necessary, that is leaving to claim hope. There are, of course, two guiding signals at these “edges”: the visit to a classical author, and unfairly undermined, not to ay forgotten, Álvaro Duarte Simões, and the application/usage (please do not get confused with App…) of the infinite popular wisdom of Vou-me Embora / I’m Getting Out, I’m Leaving, in which “travelling around the world” might mean just embrace something new, broader, more fair, filled with more dreams, happier. Amidst these two moments, dwells a collection of portraits without any touches of emotional Photoshop, rather sunbeams crossing deliberately the mist that is upon the various levels of a tough path and very often stays away from justice and dignity. Duarte, a man, sings the woman in a very sensitive and deep way, making his “model” turn by highlighting various angles/perspectives, much more complementary than alternative.
Let’s be clear; this record deals with the female condition. Without preconceived ideas, without logical or philosophical treatises, without sophisticated statements with presupposed pamphlets but without anesthesia which might forgive, and with almost microscopic approaches at various levels of woman’s life. Here there’s no place for
considerations on masculinity, domestic violence, gender issues and perennial inequalities – the numbers that so often hide the dark side of each case in particular are known, despite a selfish or cowardly trend to sweep them under the rug. But it’s worth considering the expression “female condition”. Effortlessly, it comes out ironically
this association of “female” to the “conditional tense” when it rigorously was supposed to appear the “indicative”/present, or still better the “imperative”. What is more, by getting the grammatical balance, we should definitely know how to distinguish the “preterite”/past, whose lessons we clearly take so much time to learn, from the “present” and the “future” that are not built on their own and do not match with indifferences and silences. These malignant aspects one wants to keep believing are also combated with songs.
After all, what makes a man on a record in which women – from the most specific like Leonor (or Leonor Almeida pointed out by the author as “mysterious poet from Porto” to the ones who assume the role of archetypes (the roughly treated, the desperate, the reckless, and the unsatisfied, the one who assumes mourning for a son), always designed by Duarte with blood, sweat, tears and expectations, with body and soul – occupy the main stage? Someone has written that, so as to see better, it is crucial to step backwards, and in that way to embrace the general plan. There lies one of the secrets of these songs: all of them bring to us identified characters, thus escaping to the double dimension. Because the other “strategy” of the author and artist reaches its point in an almost drastic approach, so as it can be felt the breath, heavier or softer, intermittent or sobbing of each woman. Duarte “listens to” and looks at them, following their glances, without even for a while claiming his pretension of putting himself on their stand. Or better, on the stand of each of them because individual features – although seemingly circumstantial – deserve respect and also recognition.
So as to avoid wrong focus and superficialities, there is a wise usage of economies: Time – with assertive short songs, unnecessary glossary, without affecting the poetical feature. Simplicity: The harmonious and melodic, well done secrets, and also that one of adding instruments of Fado to a quartet of strings, with the purpose of highlighting
each text, escaping to distractions and heavy sounds, which might distance us from the essential. Search – Through the popular dimension of heritage chosen by Duarte toward Fado or tradition even to melodies becoming instant classical like that written by Vitorino Salomé for Maria da Solidão / Maria in Solitude. Language – Probably the most difficult to achieve because the lyrics wisely stay away from superficiality, commonality, excess, “rócócó” – something remarkable since Duarte signs nine amongst the eleven poems, exceptions made to the first and the last.
The destiny of No Lugar Dela / On Her Stand depends now on each one who wants to listen to it, enjoy it, grasp it, and also divulge it – the female feature does not hinder the universality of the “target audience”, even because there are not contradictions of any kind. As for secondary effects, the story may find other features: beyond the
pleasure guaranteed, it makes us think, and in the best hypotheses, it may lead to action. On other contexts there would be an immediate radio-hit, ReViraVolta /Re-Turn-Round, with its fragrance from Alentejo and its genuine root. This does not hinder the album from conquering us by the sequence and contrasts, by the strength and tenderness, by the colloquial eloquence and by the concept that does not allow anything to be classified as pre-manufactures. Once I know that Duarte is a clinical Psychologist, I only leave here the guarantee that science yielded to art. I also state that, in an attentive and sensitive world, No Lugar Dela / On Her Standwould be, undoubtedly, on a sunny stand, far from the dust of shelves and the emptiness of lack of knowledge. It’s on your hands.