Sunday, December 7, 2008

Assi Al Hillani - Yemken

Assi Al Hillani's latest album is less diverse than his previous offering, Daggat Galbi, but Assi never disappoints, and Yemken is no exception. Though his albums are always dominated by traditional songs, his past two albums focused on more electronic and pop-oriented songs like Zghireh El Denyeh and Sa'alou Ainayeh, so pop fans will not like the fact that Assi seems to have grown out of it (for the time being anyways). Seven of the album's 14 tracks are composed by Assi himself (Dalli Ma'i, Halet Galbi, Bendah Ma Am Yesma', Sahra El Sharq, Lebnani, Kheil El Arab, and Khada'tena); and the remaining seven are by Haitham Zayyad (Rja'li Aw Raja'li, El Hawa Dhalem), Maher El Ali (Eyoun Al Maha), Hisham Boulos (Am Oul El Ah), Jean-Marie Riachi (Yemken), and Cem Erman (Nour El Sahar). Yemken, a very mellow title song when compared with Daggat Galbi, starts off as an uninteresting ballad, but about two minutes in, when west finally meets east, the song turns into a much more powerful song that deserves it's place as the first single. In Nour El Sahar, Nasser El As'ad takes Erman's Gümüş theme and remixes it into a far more interesting, dancefloor-worthy song. Assi, who has dueted with (and practically launched the career of) Grace Deeb and Karol Sakr before, sings two duets on this album (and Melissa does a bit of humming in Nour El Sahar as well). Rja'li Aw Raja'li is a ballad featuring Tunisian Star Academy 3 contestant Chaima Hilali, and she excels as usual in this melancholic song which combines both clarinet and oud solos. In Sahra El Sharq, Rouwaida Attieh joins Assi in one of the best dabke songs of the year, and steals the show in the process. Adel Aayesh does a great job also, with very organic arrangement made up of mizmar, ney, kawala, and violins. Assi includes two patriotic songs he previously released as singles, the powerful Kheil El Arab and Lebnani. Bouset Khanjar is a cover of Davut Güloğlu's Ham Yaparim, made more electronic and even more dramatic by Aytekin Kurt. Am Oul El Ah, which is arranged by Hadi Sharara, is a "nouveau-dabke" song in the vein of Najwa Karam's Ta'a Khabbik.


1. Dalli Ma'i
2. Halet Galbi
3. Yemken
4. Nour El Sahar (feat. Melissa)
5. Rja'li Aw Raja'ni (feat. Chaima Hilali)
6. Bendah Ma Am Yesma'
7. Am Oul El Ah
8. El Hawa Dhalem
9. Sahra El Sharq (feat. Rouwaida Attieh)
10. Bouset Khanjar
11. Eyoun El Maha
12. Lebnani
13. Kheil El Arab
14. Khada'tena

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