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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