An incredible fado talent meets Rosalía's producer in a genre-renewing collaboration.
The first time Raül Refree saw the fado singer Lina perform live, at Clube de Fado in Lisbon, he knew they had to work together. Fado is an essential part of Portuguese culture, and a form of music which at first glance can have an unchangeable allure, which brings many artists to Lisbon. That was the case with Refree, a composer and producer who has worked with Sonic Youth guitarist Lee Ranaldo and Silvia Pérez Cruz, who visited Oslo World in 2019. However, he might be best known for his work on the debut album from pop and flamenco comet Rosalia, “Los Angeles”. Shortly after Refree and Lina met for the first time, they entered the studio, where they experimented with a range of different instruments and methods. Together, they started exploring the repertoire of legendary fado singer Amália Rodrigues, a figure so beloved in Portugal that the government declared three days of mourning when she passed away in 1999.
The songs developed into what became their first album, released on Glitterbeat in 2020. “Lina_Raül Refree” was lauded by critics all over the world for its fresh take on the fado. On the album, the melodies and lyrics of Rodrigues are left unchanged, but instead of acoustic guitars, the hallmark of the genre, they use piano and different synthesizers. The production is minimal and intimate, filled with subtle moments that speak volumes. Lina has sung in all the big fado houses, she is an adoring fan of Amália, and her renditions are filled with an integrity which makes Refrees reworkings more than banal “genre renewal” - more than anything, it sounds like the way these songs have to sound today.
Lina is often compared with Refree's former collaborator, Rosalia. The two singers come from different traditions, the fado and the flamenco, but it still makes sense. They share a musical perspective, a way of balancing the respect they feel for the tradition with an ability to question it. The way they do it is intimate, heartfelt and appealing to new listeners. It is music which will endure, and reach a wider audience.