Fado is one of the world’s oldest styles of urban song. It was born in the side-streets and alleys of typical old Lisbon neighbourhoods, such as Mouraria and Alfama. As Lisbon is a port city, fado bears the influence of music that arrived over the sea from former Portuguese colonies, including those in Africa and Brazil. It was out of this mix that fado emerged, and later spread throughout the country. In 2011 fado was awarded a place on UNESCO’s prestigious Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity’.

This album features the cream of modern fado. Darling of the world music scene, Mariza is heard in traditional fado mode on track ‘Que Deus Me Perdone’, complete with accented guitar accompaniment and her perfectly forthright, yet melancholic vocals. Another young glamorous fadista Carminho treats us to a magnificent interpretation of the very famous song ‘Escrevi Teu Nome No Vento’. Ana Moura’s dreamily enthralling voice slinks across a beautiful arrangement of the song, ‘Sou Do Fado, Sou Fadista’.

The art of the Portuguese guitar is also represented on this comprehensive Rough Guide. Artists including Ricardo Parriera and Marco Oliveira employ the typically dextrous fado technique and weave elegant rippling textures.

Of course, any compilation of fado needs to acknowledge the legends, artists like Celeste Rodrigues who have been passionately singing fado since the early twentieth century. Listening to the music of old Lisbon sung by an octogenarian is a unique and precious experience. Celeste has the skill to gently express, in every word and every silence, the history of fado, and the tales of her long and colourful life.

As ever, the music doesn’t stop there: World Music Network also include a fabulous full-length bonus album by the inimitable Cristina Branco. ‘Murmurios’ was originally released as Cristina’s second album and is now widely respected as a jewel in the fado repertoire.