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MICHELE NORRIS, host:

Portugal has two cultural obsessions: soccer and the homegrown music called fado. Fado's newest star, Ana Moura, has just released a CD. Reviewer David Was says she makes fado appealing to any music lover.

(Soundbite of music)

DAVID WAS: Thirty-year-old singer Ana Moura has taken the baton from her artistic forebears and restored faith in the future of fado, Portugal's lilting answer to the blues. The mournful genre has been around for nearly two centuries but has always depended on a fresh infusion of contemporary attitude and expression. The title of Moura's new CD, "Leva-me Aos Fados," means take me to a fado house.

(Soundbite of music)

Ms. ANA MOURA (Singer): (Singing in foreign language).

WAS: Ana Moura's physical beauty is undeniable, but her mesmeric appeal radiates from within, even if you don't know a syllable of Portuguese. Her ability to alternately whisper, growl and ring like a silver bell are the hallmarks of a fine singer, not just another pretty face.

(Soundbite of music)

Ms. MOURA: (Singing in foreign language).

WAS: Fado is intimate music, depending for accompaniment on the guitarra Portuguesa, that country's version of a 12-string guitar. Unlike overproduced pop singers, Ana Moura is on her own when it comes to delivering the musical goods. On the song "Aguas Passadas," her voice is sparsely supported, and you can hear her very lungs and lips producing the tones, adding yet another level of palpable humanity and emotion to her art.

(Soundbite of music)

Ms. MOURA: (Singing in foreign language).

WAS: But don't mistake emotionality for mawkishness or woe-is-me self-pity. Fado in the 21st century doesn't mean acquiescence to the darkness that surrounds us, not to Ana Moura. The minor-key sadness of the songs is offset by her light but sure sense of swing and innate high spirits. In fact, on the song "Fado vestido de fado," she sounds downright chipper, proof positive that having the blues needn't mean going down without a fight or, for that matter, a smile.

(Soundbite of music)

Ms. MOURA: (Singing in foreign language).

NORRIS: Reviewer David Was on the new CD from Ana Moura.

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