David Fonseca is something of a phenomenon in Portugal. He sold almost a quarter of a million copies of his debut album, Sing Me Something New, released in 2003 after going solo from his former band, Silence 4. These were Portugal's biggest band, by far, and they shocked a few people by quitting in 2001. Sing Me Something New though, was a smash hit - Fonseca wrote everything and played almost everything, a true solo record - and he's never looked back.
So what's so special about David Fonseca? What is it about him that so appeals to the Portuguese? He doesn't sing in his own language, for a start. I think it's a combination of things. For a start, there's the fact that he does play everything himself - that's not to be underestimated, as not only does it indicate some serious talent, but it shows a level of creative quality control that doesn't often occur in big pop bands. Then there's the fact that he was in a very successful band - now, we've seen how this guarantees nothing in so many cases, but this is a positive story.
But what does it most of all? It's got to be that huge, soaring, dramatically soulful voice. For a non-native English speaker, Fonseca has an incredible grasp of inflection and timing, and yet manages to add a continental lilt to it. Not only that, but the depth, clarity and richness of his singing tone is something to behold. Think Jeff Buckley at times, but with a little more realisation of his pop importance, a little more showmanship.
So - it's easy to see why he's a hit in Portugal, but why nowhere else? Why is there no crossover? This is a sound that would surely translate well - everybody loves a bit grandeur in a voice, and with these superbly constructed songs, now would seem to be the time to expand. But, nothing as yet - no wiki, nothing on Amazon.co.uk. Maybe time will tell.
David Fonseca - Playing Bowies With Me (this is an album track from Fonseca's debut, and was the track that first introduced me to the man, and impressed me straight off. Thanks must go to a lovely young lady named Rita)
David Fonseca - Who Are U? (lead single from last year's Our Hearts Will Beat As One. This can also be found on David's MySpace, along with a bunch of others)
Silence 4 - A Little Respect (Silence 4's first hit, an Erasure cover (obviously))
Buy Portuguese music here
Buy David Fonseca (go to your record shop and bug them for it - damned if I can find it on Amazon)/Silence 4
Tags: Portugal; World Cup; David Fonseca; Silence 4; Erasure;
CIA Factbook: Portugal