The Deolinda Project began in 2006, inspired by the astonishing success of Mariza, a phenomenon that put Portugal and fado on the international map. The musicians were previously involved in diverse Portuguese musical adventures, and Ana was a jazz singer. Pedro da Silva Martins initially wrote two songs about Deolinda but when friends demanded more, he expanded them to the 14 on this album. And as they rehearsed and refined the music, Ana recalls, ‘a feminine character’ came to life: “She stands for days listening to records her grandmother left her, and watching through the lace curtains her neighbours’ lives. She writes about characters she sees in the streets and adds her own thoughts. Toninho (in ’Fado Toninho’) is one of the guys that walks around like they own the street, thinking they’re so hot. She tames him – through love.” Deolinda sings about love affairs between strong women and tough guys “who don’t love them but don’t defeat them, but it’s his loss.”
The Deolinda Project has produced an irresistible début album that evokes vignettes from Lisbon life. In the short time since its Portuguese release at the end of 2008, “Canção ao lado” (The Song next Door) has shot from nowhere into the Portuguese charts and after 22 weeks, it achieved Platinum status with over 20.000 sales.
An intriguing concept album, “Canção ao lado” is delivered ‘live’ in wildly flamboyant concerts that draw audiences from the 30-something age group of the musicians, to grandparents and small children. The secret to their popularity must surely lie in their exuberant, sometimes comic performances, the sweet and catchy or softly melancholic guitar melodies, and music littered with emotive references to fado and other less prominent musical traditions. The songs carry the stories of Deolinda - always explained by the dynamic, charismatic singer, Ana Bacalhau (meaning Salted Cod) who brings to life Deolinda’s stories.
Times (UK) writes after their recent live show in London:
Ana Bacalhau, a sensual figure blessed with infinitely mobile hips and infectious humour, was the centre of attention
No question: the next time they come back, they will be playing a bigger venue. Ana Bacalhau and her colleagues might even end up giving the fado queen, Mariza, some serious competition. The Portuguese group’s debut album, Cançao do Lado, certainly belongs among the most uplifting releases of the year.
- Clive Davis