Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Layal - Fi Shouq

Lebanese singer Layal's debut album makes the most of her relatively limited vocal range. The young singer sang at various Beirut cafes and restaurants before finally meeting with musicians like Richard Najm, Tony Abi Karam, and Salim Salameh The album has a variety of styles, covering Egyptian and Lebanese ballads as well as a shot at Iraqi chobi. Her first single, Hawasi Kella, is included as well as an unexpected collaboration with Ihsan El Mounzer, who arranged Mashghoul Bali Alaik. Easily Jad Sawaya's most (professionally) serious artist so far, Layal's debut album is a good start, with lots of room to improve.

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1. Fi Shouq
2. Hawasi Kella
3. Abouya Alli
4. Mashghoul Bali Alaik
5. Am Behlamak
6. Wen Ya Wen
7. Chobi
8. Albi Yomma

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Sunday, February 15, 2009

Magida el Roumi - Ibhath Anni

Like Kadim Al Sahir, Magida el Roumi is one of the few that truly succeeded in fusing Arabic and classical music together in the 1990s. Beautiful poetry, like Dr. Souad Al Sabah's Kon Sadiqi (Be My Friend), were turned into songs that spoke to Arab audiences from Oman to Morocco. After the huge success Magida experienced with Kalimat, she sang her second Nizar Qabbani poem, Ma'a Jarida, in 1994. While Dr. Jamal Salama's music is more engaging and interesting, Ihsan El Mounzer benefited from a much more romantic poem with 1991's Kalimat. Lan A'oud and Ghannou Ma'i are also composed by Dr. Jamal Salama, though the you can feel the classical influence in the former while the latter is an upbeat oriental song. Elie Choueiri's compositions, Saqata Al Qina' (The Mask Has Fallen) and Oum Etthadda (Dare), are both patriotic marches that call for resistance in the face of both internal and external threats. Magida's father, Halim, composed Mararti Fi Khayali and the album's sole Egyptian song, Ya Mkahal Remshak. The album's title song is a beautiful ballad in classical Arabic, and lyrics aside, Abdo Monzer does a an amazing job on the composition. Tracks 1-3 are arranged by Dr. Jamal Salama, while 4-9 are arranged by Abdo Monzer.

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1. Ma'a Jarida
2. Lan A'oud
3. Saqata Al Qina'
5. Mararti Fi Khayali
6. Ya Mkahal Remshak
7. Ibhath Anni
8. Kon Sadiqi
9. Oum Etthadda

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Monday, February 9, 2009

Aziz Abdo - Inti Tsharrafi

After an artful entry into the music business in 2004, singer/model Aziz Abdo's sophomore album is finally in stores now. Aziz returns maturer with Inti Tsharrafi, a great mix of Lebanese, Egyptian, and Khaliji pop. The majority of the album is composed by Haitham Zayyad and arranged by Tony Saba, whose songs usually have an oriental feel. The title song, which is composed by Hisham Boulos, is an electronic pop song typical of Hadi Sharara. Hayda Yawmi is also composed by Hisham, but arranged by Dani Helou, while Howa Inti Leih is composed by Zaher El Baba and arranged by Ghassan Shu'aib. Light and fun, Inti Tsharrafi is what you'd expect from Aziz.

1. Inti Tsharrafi
2. Esta'gelti
3. Byekfi Skout
4. Ana Moghram
5. Hayda Yawmi
6. Ayami
7. Teb'od Anni
8. Howa Inti Leih
9. Teghzel Oyouni

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Saturday, February 7, 2009

Fella - Tashakkourat

Like Asalah, Fella Ababsa comes from a musical family and is the daughter of renowned Algerian musician Abdelhamid Ababsa. Fella's aunt Laila, sister Naima, and brother Najib, are popular singers in their home country as well. Baligh Hamdi, who musically adopted Mayada El Hennawi and Samira Said before her, and Sabah supported Fella's entry into the Egyptian music scene. Fella was soon jailed and banned from Egypt, but the reasons for career-crippling ban remain unclear. Fella returned to Algeria, and she became one of the country's most famous modern singers. Years later, Fella finally used her connections in Lebanon to sign a contract with Rotana and work on a new album.

Tashakkourat was composed by some of Lebanon's top composers; Elias Rahbani, Tarek Abou Jaoudeh, Azar Habib, and George Marderosian. Much like her life, Fella's music has a bit of everything, and she even sings in Turkish on Tashakkourat and French on Kan. Shaka Baka and the title song are the sort of upbeat song Fella excels in, while Dakhlak Ya Lail is in Elias Rahbani's signature style. Kan feels like a French ballad, while Abkaitani feels more oriental. In 2001, Tashakkourat introduced her to the Arab world finally, and the playful Fella has slowly become one of the staples of the Arabic music scene.

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1. Mahlan Alay
2. Tashakkourat
3. Shared
4. Helmak
5. Kan
6. Man An
7. Shaka Baka
8. Dakhlak Ya Lail
9. Abkaitani
10. Kan [French Version]

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Monday, February 2, 2009

Najwa Karam - Kibir El Hob

With the Cedar Revolution, 2005 had been a trying a year for Lebanon, and with the exception of a few, most of Lebanon's A-list singers did not release albums. Najwa Karam pushed the release of her album from June, to July, and then even further. In November, as the famous "puzzle" billboard finally was finally completed and revealed Najwa's face, Kibir El Hob was released. While Najwa had not been gone from the music scene for long, the uplifting Bhebbak Wala', her first collaboration with Hadi Sharara, had already garnered a lot of anticipation for her new album. It's safe to say that that the album did not disappoint!

From the first listen, the difference in production is apparent. While Shou Mghayara..! is a great album, Kibir El Hob ups the ante in terms of arrangement, and the sound is much more organic, with more instruments and less digital substitutes. After venturing into pop with varying results, in Tahamouni, Najwa's second shot at it is much more sweet. The dabke beats are not absent from Kibir El Hob, Bhebbak Wala', Hamseh Hamseh, or the smash hit Shou Hal Hala, but Hadi Sharara injects just right amount of pop to innovate but still keep Najwa's faithful fans listening. Imad Shamseddine, who was at work with Rouwaida Attieh in 2004, returned with a much bigger contribution to Najwa's team in 2006. All three of the album's hit singles, Bkhaf Men El May, Bhebbak Wala', and Shou Hal Hala, were written and composed by Imad. While Hadi innovates, Tony Anka's traditionalist approach on Bkhaf Men El May, Ma Byensheba', Baddak Terja', and Talet Marra is all but dated. With big beats, ney, bouzouk, mizmar, sharp strings, and the nostalgic synth here and there, it's hard to keep still when listening to his work!

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1. Bkhaf Men El May
2. Ma Byensheba'
3. Kibir El Hob
4. Baddak Terja'
5. Hamseh Hamseh
6. Shou Hal Hala
7. Talet Marra
8. Bhebbak Wala'

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