Just in case any listener becoming increasingly fascinated with veteran singer and pianist Ramana Vieira’s passionate deep dive into Portuguese fado music on her bilingual latest album Tudo De Mim – All of Me – misses the memo that this is the true culmination of several decades of ancestral devotion, she emphatically declares that fado literally runs through her veins on not one but two of the collection’s most compelling tracks – the dramatic power ballad “Tudo de Mim” and the festively funky romp “Fado la la la.”
For the uninitiated, fado, which traces back about 200 years to Lisbon, is generally characterized by mournful songs and lyrics, often about the sea or the lives of poor people, that have a sense of fate, resignation and melancholy. This seems like an unusual style to so fascinate a young girl growing up (with Portuguese born parents) in Northern California, but Ramana was hooked when she visited Portugal for the first time and sang a Fado at a restaurant and brought down the house. The music of her heritage has defined her 25 year career as a recording artist and she’s performed everywhere from NYC to the Encontro Festival in Macau, China.
While songs like “Fado la la La,” the tasty and danceable ethnic jam “Lambada” (featuring Jeff Furtado’s lively lead vocals and acoustic guitar) and the torchy, pop-flavored English only “Jacaranda” make the album seem like a full-on celebration of the cultural fusion that defines Ramana’s artistry, the heart and soul of the collection comes from her introspective balladry.
The most beautiful of these offerings is her passionate spiritual meditation on “Mother Mary” (which incorporates a few bars of “Ave Maria”), and the lilting piano and vocal expressions “Verdes Anos” sung in Portuguese) and “Please Love Me Forever” (English that can either be referring to a lover or God). The artist truly delivers on her vision to create what she calls her global pop album expressing her “love for songwriting, my Catholic upbringing with my song about the blessed Mother Mary, Hawaii and Fado mixed in with a little urban roots.”