Lina_Raül Refree: fado for 2020
The producer who helped bring flamenco music into the mainstream with Rosalía is back, this time with the view to promoting the traditional Portuguese genre of fado with the help of enchanting singer Lina Rodrigues.
A figure of the Catalan hardcore scene from the 1990s, Raül Refree has now transformed himself into one of the wisest producers of today. He has uncovered some of the biggest voices of the contemporary Spanish scene, having contributed to the launching of the careers of the remarkable Rocio Marquez, the moving Silvia Perez Cruz and international megastar Rosalía. This time, Raül Fernandez Miró aka Refree was ensnared by a voice from across the border of his own native country.
Before crossing paths with the revolutionary mentor, Lina had been pursuing an acclaimed career in Portugal as a traditional fadista under the name Carolina. For this project of radical fado music modernisation, she has decided to use her real name, and has put her heart and soul into Lina_Raül Refree. The whole undertaking was a risk, as the source material itself is almost sacred having been taken from the queen of the entire genre: Amália Rodrigues.
Renowned for his inventive technique on the guitar, Refree has done away with traditional string-based orchestration in order to concentrate on an inspired use of keyboards, piano (both alone and arranged), organs, synths, and electronic ornamentation. He creates astonishing ethereal twilight atmospheres, all while respecting the intrinsic harmonies of classics which are here given a fresh lick of paint.
The album which was released on Glitterbeat Records progresses with works that are more and more emblematic of Amália Rodrigues and therefore of fado as well. In Portugal, Foi Deus, Barco Negro, Fado Menor and Ave Maria Fadista are practically considered national anthems. But Refree’s novel approach is both sensitive and respectful, and Lina’s clear and impassioned singing shows the magnitude of her connection to one of the legends of fado.
Lina_Raül Refree closes with the only song to be accompanied by guitar, Voz Amália De Nós (which has never been sung by Amália herself), a tribute by António Variações (1945-1984), someone many consider to be one of the great pioneers of modernising Portuguese traditional music. Of course, this work by Refree and Lina will have churned the stomachs of some purists who maintain rigid ideas on the matter, but it’s clear that this enchanting record will be remembered for years to come.