Saturday, November 28, 2009

Rouwaida Attieh - Esma'ni

The three-year wait is finally over, and Rouwaida Attieh has released her new album, Esma'ni. Under a completely new management, headed by Anoud Al Ma'aliqi, change is instantly what you expect when glancing at the glamorous cover. But Lebanese composer Imad Shamseddine is no longer on the composing team, and there are no Egyptian composers to be seen either. The album opens with Shou Sahl El Haki, a ballad with soulful lyrics, but Nasser El As'ad's lifting of Gokhan Ozen's Inkar Etme for the arrangement doesn't fit very well. His work on Bala Hob is more enjoyable with soothing piano and strings, even though the song itself is a very standard ballad. Arguably the best work on the album comes from Wissam El Amir and George Marderosian, the composers behind Rouwaida hits like Jerouhi and Ala El Mani. Wissam El Amir's compositions, Law Inta El Shams and Ana Andi Lezeh, are both great dabke songs with playful and creative lyrics. The arrangement is textbook Roger Khoury however, with too much synth and not enough real instruments. George Marderosian's compositions are diverse, as he usually is: Hayati Melki is a dabke song that shows how far Rouwaida's voice can soar, even if what Roger Khoury does with the arrangement confounds the listener. Za'al Majnoun has a simple and catchy tune, but Bassem Rezq's arrangement, with a generous serving of flowing strings, takes the song to the next level.

The album's main problem is uninspired composers, like Salim Assaf and Mazen El Ayoubi, who don't have the faintest idea how to harness the power of Rouwaida's voice. Even the choice of title song was unfortunate. While the album has about or five or so good songs, three of them were released ages before the album came out. For such a talented young woman, Rouwaida Attieh just can't get a break, let's hope this album was just growing pains.

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1. Shou Sahl El Haki
2. Esma'ni
3. Wana Kol Ma A'oul
4. Law Inta El Shams
5. La Tefakker
6. Bala Hob
7. Baini Ou Baino
8. Za'al Majnoun
9. Ana Andi Lezeh
10. Hayati Melki

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