Friday, September 10, 2010

Ziad Rahbani - Houdou Nisbi

The many faces of Ziad Rahbani are exhibited in the diversity of his work. But whether a hopeless romantic or a scathing critic, he brings an air of 1980s Beirut with him on Houdou Nisbi. The album is a tribute to Ziad's love for jazz, but like his complex personality, it is full of influences from both east and west. The album opens with Bala Wala Chi, a heartfelt ballad sung by longtime friend Sami Hawat. The title song is a melancholic, jazzy number accented with Ziad's signature bouzouk, and is a great example of "oriental" jazz. Nafs El Shaghli brings us more oriental jazz, but this time accented with the beautiful voices of Monica and Sami Hawat. The oddball Yalla Kichou Barra, unmistakably Ziad Rahbani, invites the electric guitar and oriental percussion in. Ma Tfil is a lighter track, with uplifting strings, and again sung by Sami Hawat, although the chorus creates does a great job setting the ambiance. The album then shifts into a more bossa nova-style mood with an instrumental piece, Bil Nisbi La Boukra Shou?, interestingly joined by a kawala. Bisaraha is the notorious song Ziad wrote about his relationship with now ex-wife Dalal Karam, and he is joined again by Sami Hawat on vocals. Bain El Khamsa Wel Sab'a is another relaxed instrumental piece. Rouh Khabbir is a mellow cover of The Crusaders' Soul Shadows, and fits perfectly in the album. Monica lends her voice to another, more upbeat instrumental in Min Kil Bid, and rounds up the album with a great ballad in Khalas. The rightly named Final, is a a hauntingly beautiful guitar interlude that closes the album.

1. Bala Wala Chi
2. Houdou Nisbi
3. Nafs El Shaghli
4. Yalla Kichou Barra
5. Ma Tfil
6. Bil Nisbi La Boukra Shou?
7. Bisaraha
8. Bain El Khamsa Wel Sab'a
9. Rouh Khabbir
10. Min Kil Bid
11. Khalas
12. Final

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And Eid Mubarak to all visitors, sorry for the hiatus!

Monday, August 2, 2010

Asalah - Qanoun Keifek

Two years since her last release, and after a relentless spin on the rumor mill, Asalah's Qanoun Keifek has finally arrived. The album is composed by Saudi composer Sahm, with the exception of Ya Rasi El Ta'ab (Fayez El Sa'id) and Sem Ou Asal (Leil), which in itself is a risk. Picking up where Sawaha Galbi left off, Qanoun Keifek opens with a song that needs some getting used to. A dramatic opening, a dance-oriented chorus, and powerful lyrics of a woman's frustration. The instrumentation is strange at first but beautiful, with a tango-esque solo violin and piano alongside a rebab and ney, all to the beat of Iraqi percussion. Ila Mata slows things down, but the shock value does not subside with Asalah braving a western-style ballad, and her voice taking an otherwise simple song to new heights. Shef Ether opens with an almost Enya-style melancholy tinged with oriental strings, and shows Asalah exploring areas she normally would not: being the other woman. After successfully taking the plunge into jazz with Hayati in 2006, Asalah tries her hand at some swing with Bas Degiga. A mix of frustration and mischief, the song is another winner. Shakhs Yehtam, in the vein of La Tekhaf, is the album's feel-good track and makes up in sweet lyrics for the simplicity of the song. Sharha Ou Atab is the sole dance song, and the style could be almost be interchangeable with a Tunisian song, pointing to the versatile Issam Sharayti's roots. The album winds down with three powerful ballads, beginning with the classically-influenced Te'abt Ardhik, which is another testament to Asalah's voice. The previously leaked Ya Rasi El Ta'ab is slightly reworked, but still opens with a piano and harp as a hopelessly emotional ballad and transforms into a faster-paced Emirati song accented with sharp strings. Sem Ou Asal is also polished and a verse shorter. However, the fusion of an excellent Khaliji ballad, complete with flowing strings and heavy percussion, to a jazzy saxophone and electric guitar still manages to leave you in awe.

1. Qanoun Keifek
2. Ila Mata
3. Shef Ether
4. Bas Degiga
5. Shakhs Yehtam
6. Sharha Ou Atab
7. Te'abt Ardhik
8. Ya Rasi El Ta'ab
9. Sem Ou Asal

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Saturday, July 10, 2010

George Wassouf - Heya El Ayam

Vocal deterioration and a penchant for the fast life aside, it is hard to find a man who can still deliver a oriental music like George Wassouf does. Heya El Ayam, the Sultan's 2006 offering is impeccable, and deserved far more attention than Wassouf gave it. A mix of powerful ballads and dance tunes. The album opens with the title song, which features Amjad El Atefi and Tony Saba at their best. Everything from the bouzouk and the strings to the mizmar and the accordion is melded perfectly and sounds beautiful. Bastanna Bel Youm Wel Youmein invites Adel Aayesh's signature Turkish-style G (sol) clarinet into the mix into a more modern ballad, typical of Walid Saad. Haninak Hanini marks one of the few (but great) Lebanese songs that Wassouf has sung, albeit with less powerful lyrics than Helef El Amar. The song is quintessential Tarek Abou Jaoudeh, Tony Saba's arrangement shines here as well, with more bouzouk and flowing strings. Khsert Kol El Nas is one of Walid Saad's best songs, and brings back the G clarinet and low-pitched strings in a great ballad. Ghadr El Nas, a thoroughly Egyptian affair, is less engaging, and perhaps because Wassouf's vocals falter with notes better suited to Nour Mhanna's flawless voice. With Mestanni Menni Eih, Adel Aayesh takes a more Egyptian approach also with a mix of kanun, ney, and strings. Despite some nice solos, the song is not a standout and fades into the background. After a feast of oriental instruments for the ears, Mazen Zawaydi's choice of synths in El Zaman Dawwar is a bit of a letdown, and the song is nothing overly interesting. Leilet Wada'na, the album's sole single, is an excellent note to end on. Tony Saba brings restless strings, the oud, rebab, and ney together to accent a great piece by Amjad El Atefi.

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1. Heya El Ayam
2. Bastanna Bel Youm Wel Youmein
3. Haninak Hanini
4. Khsert Kol El Nas
5. Ghadr El Nas
6. Mestanni Menni Eih
7. El Zaman Dawwar
8. Leilet Wada'na (Ya Habibi)

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Sunday, May 23, 2010

Yara - La'ale' Khalijiya

Of the many Khaliji offerings in 2009, La'ale' Khalijiya was easily the most well-received. Rumored to be in the works for two years until it was finally released, the album was Yara's ticket to the last Janadriya Festival in Saudi Arabia. The album has musicians from the kingdom as well as the UAE, Bahrain, Qatar, Kuwait, Egypt, and Lebanon. It opens with Adri, a good song made beautiful by Amr Abdelaziz's beautiful arrangement. Initially Nawal's, Ana Ensana sounds like the best of Nasser El Saleh's compositions for Mohamed Abdu. The song is surprisingly arranged by Osama El Hindi, who gives the song a lighter, more exotic-sounding beat to contrast the deep, melancholic strings. From the female creative duo that brought us the hit Shomoukh Ezi, Tathker Youm is a more light, upbeat love song. The change of pace that the song goes through is interesting at first, but there isn't enough here to warrant the six-minute length. Raghba Menni is a light love song with typical percussion-centred Siruz arrangement. Fayez El Sa'id's Sekkar Zeyada, a hit by most accounts, is one of my least favorite songs here. It is by no means bad however, and will be an instant favorite for fans of the Emirati style. Sallemouli is not very interesting either, and both Abdallah El Gaoud and Tarek Aakef have done better jobs.

The album picks up with Sedfa, the song that made Yara a Khaliji star overnight. After the number of plays the song got on television and radio stations, most would skip it today, but it remains a catchy, upbeat song on all fronts. Bkel Shay Tajtheb* is another playful and catchy song, albeit too repetitive for some. Ma Roum is another song that stands out, it is short and sweet, but it could have done without the cheap synths. The album takes a surprising turn with Ma Aad Fini Rouh, as the traditional album jumps into the small niche of Khaliji-R&B. Ahmed El Hermi changes things up again, just as he did with her hit Inta Menni in 2008, and arguably does even better here with Siruz's help. Men Hey?, composed by Fahad El Nasser, brings Michel Fadel in. The song is instantly given Michel's western ballad touch, combining beautiful piano with airy strings. Amr Abdelaziz rarely goes wrong with Khaliji songs, and Nasik is no exception, but Ghali's composition, while enjoyable, is nothing new. Nedhar Eini, composed by Fayez El Sa'id, changes the mood again, and the dramatic intro is instantly attributed to Walid Fayed. Neloum El Wagt may have fared better had Mohamed Abdu and Asalah's version not overshadowed it, but the arrangement definitely leaves much to be desired. We end with Ya Habibi Alamek, another good Nasser El Saleh-Amr Abdelaziz collaboration, and the song's pace almost suits its purpose as the final song of the album.

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1. Adri
2. Ana Ensana
3. Tathker Youm
4. Raghba Menni
5. Sekkar Zeyada
6. Sallemouli
7. Sedfa
8. Bkel Shay Tajtheb
9. Ma Roum
10. Ma Aad Fini Rouh
11. Men Hey?
12. Nasik
13. Nedhar Eini
14. Neloum El Wagt
15. Ya Habibi Alamek

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*Contrary to the tags, track 8 is composed by Mohamed Bou Dalla and track 9 by Homoud Nasser.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Kadim Al Sahir - Ila Tilmitha

Kadim Al Sahir rarely disappoints, but from time to time come works that are unforgettable. Ila Tilmitha tones down the pop, and while the classical songs are impeccable, the album has a focus on Iraqi songs. The album opens with Ahebbini, a song he has yet to eclipse. The song takes a beautiful Nizar Qabbani poem, couples it with one of Kadim's most powerful compositions yet, and rich, classically-influenced oriental arrangement by Hisham Niyaz. Furshat Raml El Bahr, which Shahd Barmada professed she loved, is an intimate song about lovers on the beach. Ila Tilmitha is a thoroughly oriental affair with one of Nizar Qabbani's most famous poems. The song is arranged beautifully, with moody strings, a calm accordion, and heavy percussion. Sayedat Omri is another heartfelt song, with a slower pace but the same rich feel to the music. Eih Ya'ni changes things up a little, with a more jalsa-style sound, and is another gem. Sayeghin El Thahab, Emshi Bhadawa, and May Ward are lighthearted Iraqi pop songs, while Eshsar Eshda'wa is a full-on Iraqi chobi song. The album closes with Ashkou Ayaman, Kadim's first and less famous duet with Asma Lmnawar. While the song is not the mess Kabberi Aqlaki is, it is more of a recitation when compared to the genre-defining songs that precede it on this album. Ila Tilmitha is a great introduction to the music of the Caesar Al Tarab Kadim Al Sahir.

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1. Ahebbini Bila Ouqadi
2. Furshat Raml El Bahr
3. Ila Tilmitha
4. Sayeghin El Thahab
5. Emshi Bhadawa
6. Sayedat Omri
7. Kabberi Aqlaki
8. Mawal Ghorfat El Mekyaj
9. May Ward
10. Eih Ya'ni
11. Mawal Dhagat Alaya
12. Eshsar Eshda'wa
13. Ashkou Ayaman (with Asma Lmnawar)

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Saturday, April 10, 2010

Pascale Machaalani - Bhebbak Ana Bhebbak

Bhebbak Ana Bhebbak is Pascale's latest album, although the length would suggest a maxi single. The title song opens the album on a nostalgic note, and with a concert atmosphere. The song is repetitive, but Melhem Bou Shdid's arrangement holds the song together and is worth a listen even as background music. The album's strongest song is Sallemlak Albi, composed by Mohamed Yehia, the video for which was released this week. The song has simplistic arrangement that works coupled with a catchy chorus and Pascale's beautiful voice. Red Alayeh sounds just like most of her 2007 album, and even the beautiful ney solos aren't worth braving the five minute song. With the recent resurgence of dabke in pop music, Mahboubi Jnoubi was to be expected, but the song is easily forgotten. Habibi Gheir is another Bou Shdid composition, but mixes things up with some great bouzouk solos and strings which make the song very enjoyable. The album ends with Nafs El Makan, composed by Nader Nour, which is a standard Egyptian ballad. To say Pascale's 2009 return was underwhelming would be an understatement, but it's worth braving the mediocrity for some of the brighter spots on this album. It's safe to say that the excitement once associated with the release of a Pascale album has dissipated.

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1. Bhebbek Ana Bhebbak (Nawi Trouh)
2. Sallemlak Albi
3. Red Alayeh (Wainak Ya Ghali)
4. Mahboubi Jnoubi
5. Habibi Gheir
6. Nafs El Makan

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Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Karol Sakr - 009

Perhaps one of 2009's most anticipated albums, Karol Sakr's 009 was finally released in May after months of delays. The change in style is evident with Tarek Abou Jaoudeh gone, and the focus shifts from ballads to pop songs. The album opens with Gheltan Ktir, a reworked version of Ajda Pekkan's Aynen Öyle, albeit credited to Jean Saliba. The song fits Karol's emotive voice perfectly, while Elie Barbar and Cem Erken's arrangement could have used some acoustic instruments. Bi Albi, composed by Hisham Boulos, is infectiously catchy and even the way the auto-tuner drowns Karol's voice works. The only complaints lie with the interlude's resemblance to Guru Josh's Infinity 2008, especially when the beautiful strings that end the song could have easily replaced it. For the first time, Karol has two Egyptian songs here, and Hadi Sharara gets more experimental with their arrangement. Ertah We Rayyahni is catchy pop, while the popular Eih El Gedid is a more R&B-influenced track. The songs most like Karol's previous album arrive in the middle, with Salim Salameh and Wissam El Amir's songs. Jerh Ghiyabak, the first only single from the album, is in classic Hadi Sharara ballad form sans the focus on strings. We Btes'al Shou Beni is a more laidback ballad, but finally ushers in more real instruments with beautiful accordion solos and strings. Ha'ak Alayeh continues the trend and adds a bouzouk to the mix, in a catchy jazz-influenced number. Melhem Barakat returns with a very different song from Da'et Albak. Horr Tsadde'ni has a much more traditional approach, and while the instrumentation is beautiful, you can't help but feel that the song would have been better suited to Najwa Karam or Melhem himself.

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1. Gheltan Ktir
2. Bi Albi
3. Ertah We Rayyahni
4. Eih El Gedid
5. Jerh Ghiyabak
6. We Btes'al Shou Beni (Ma'i Ou Mish Ma'i)
7. Ha'ak Alayeh
8. Horr Tsadde'ni
9. Gheltan Ktir (Extended)

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Saturday, March 20, 2010

Pascale Machaalani - Akhed Aqli

Pascale Machaalani's sultry voice can make any song sound good, but unlike her 2006 album Akbar Kidba Bi Hayati, she throws diversity out the window here. Unlike many singers who have relied on a particular musician or team for their hits, Pascale's hits have come from many of the top musicians. However Melhem Bou Shdid, who usually used to oversee the arrangement of her albums, composed most of the songs here. Though not a stranger to composing hits, being the man behind Shou Amaltellak Ana? and Sa'beh Eish Men Dounak, his style gets repetitive fast. The album opens with Am Yemda El Wa't, a rich ballad which despite its length remains a crowd pleaser. The title song, a cover of the hit Turkish song Adresi Biliyorsun by Nalan. The arrangement is given a refreshing update by Aytekin Kurt, but the section before the chorus is removed completely. Ba'adetna El Masafeh is a mellow ballad, with a relatively catchy tune and typical but enjoyable arrangement. Awlak Ya Albi, composed by Yehya El Hassan, is in the same vein with addition of a ney. Wainak Ya Ensan, though a beautiful song, has limited appeal as a song written about the 2006 Lebanese War. Tghayart Alayeh, which was the first single, is another warm ballad, despite the sometimes outdated feel about the music. Ana Lamma Shoftak, composed by Tamer Ashour, is by no means bad but an unexciting ballad. Ardak Hawn changes the pace with a short mawal and an interesting song about the issue of emigration. Ah Ya Layali, a shot at Egyptian sha'bi, is catchier than Khallik Fi Halak, but one can't help but feel that someone with Pascale's history can do so much better.

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1. Am Yemda El Wa't
2. Akhed Aqli
3. Ba'adetna El Masafeh
4. Awlak Ya Albi
5. Wainak Ya Ensan
6. Khallik Fi Halak
7. Tghayart Alayeh
8. Ana Lamma Shoftak
9. Ardak Hawn
10. Ah Ya Layali

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Shahd Barmada - Ba'd Elli Sar

One of the gems found on the countless television talent shows, Shahd Barmada managed to stay on people's minds for years until she finally released her debut album in 2009. With the sweetness of Nancy Ajram, and the grace of Mayada El Hennawi, Shahd Barmada is another very promising new Syrian voice. Musically adopted by Asalah's ex-husband and producer Ayman El Dahabi initially, Shahd later signed on to Music is My Life and Samir Sfair took Ayman's place. Samir composed half of the songs, and his style is diverse as usual.

While Shahd's album is nothing groundbreaking, the choice of songs is perfect with talented musicians coming together for on of 2009's best albums. The catchy title song employs Tarek Madkour's classic strings and kanun combination albeit with an ayoub beat instead of maksoum. La Youshtara successfully brings back Yuri Mrakadi's tried and true formula of beautiful classical lyrics combined with western pop. La Tloum is another infectiously catchy maksoum song, but although Karim Abdelwahab blatantly employs Tarek Madkour's style of arrangement, the synths sound cheap and don't do the song justice. Halati Hala is a simple ballad, with Tarek Madkour's favorite pop beat coupled with clarinet, but as we have come to expect from Karim El Iraqi, the lyrics are heartfelt. Allah Ma'ak is a classic Samir Sfair ballad, and Fahd does a great job combining the elements of the quintessential western ballad with oriental accents. Khaled El Bakri composed two ballads here also. Law Kont Btehlam has a dramatic flare that is in large part thanks to the interesting arrangement of Tarek Aakef. Wayak Habibi is less interesting in terms of composition, but equally beautiful thanks to Medhat Khamis' arrangement. The song that instantly catches your attention however, is Law Had Shafou, composed by Nouhad Najjar. The song is unmistakably oriental, but with a classical accent that Jean-Marie Riachi employs beautifully in the arrangement also. Walid Saad's Reg'et Ayamna is the composer at his best, with a nostalgia and the kind of composition that puts Shahd's beautiful voice to the test. Adel Aayesh's rich, Turkish-influenced arrangement fits perfectly too. The album ends with Teshoufak Eini, a catchy maksoum song that is instantly reminiscent of Nancy Ajram. Funnily enough, the song was apparently meant for Nancy Ajram but Mohamed Rehim preferred to release it sooner.

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1. Ba'd Elli Sar
2. Law Kont Btehlam
3. La Youshtara
4. Law Had Shafou
5. La Tloum
6. Wayak Habibi
7. Halati Hala
8. Reg'et Ayamna
9. Allah Ma'ak
10. Teshoufak Eini

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Saturday, March 13, 2010

Fairuz - The Very Best of Fairuz

The prospect of compiling a greatest hits album for Fairuz must have been daunting to say the least. While this album is by no means the definitive collection, nor does it include all of her iconic hits, it is a quick taste of what made this woman into the legend she is today. The album has many styles, ranging from folk music and Arabic pop to classical renditions and European styles. There are samplings of her work from the stage and the screen, such as Ya Moukhtar El Makhatir and Ya Tair, as well as songs that have reach iconic status such as A'tini El Naya, Addaysh Kan Fi Nas, and Habbaitak Bel Saif. The fact that at least half of the songs on this album have been covered or translated into different languages is a testament to the legacy that Fairuz, Ambassador to the Stars, has left.

1. Habbaitak Bel Saif
2. Addaysh Kan Fi Nas
3. Zahrat El Mada'en
4. Ya Moukhtar El Makhatir
5. Shadi
6. Kan El Zaman
7. El Eds El Ati'a
8. Shayef El Bahr Shou Kbir
9. Ya Ana Ya Ana
10. A'tini El Naya
11. Sanarja'ou Yawman
12. El Bint El Shalabiyeh
13. Ya Tair
14. Dabket Lebnan

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Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Najwa Karam - Rouh Rouhi

Rouh Rouhi is one of the songs that instantly come to mind when thinking of Najwa Karam's lengthy repertoire. The album opens with Atshaneh, which in the vein of Pascale Machaalani's Albi and Samira Said's Al Bal, has the distinct Indian flavor which was popular at the time. The remainder of the album is made up of more Lebanese-style dabke songs and ballads. Imad Shamseddine dominates most of the album, and composed the hit title song too. Wissam El Amir composed In Raddayt Alayk and Joseph Joha composed El Wafiyeh and Areftou Albi La Min, another heartfelt and unforgettable song. Like most of Najwa's late-1990s albums, Tarek Aakef arranged all of the songs.

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1. Atshaneh
2. Areftou Albi La Min
3. Rouh Rouhi
4. Kif Bdawik
5. Ma Berda Ghairak
6. El Wafiyeh
7. In Raddayt Alayk

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Thursday, February 4, 2010

Mayada El Hennawi - Habbeina

Baligh Hamdi once said that Mayada El Hennawi's was " angelic voice that demands your attention." The great composer only wrote the lyrics to two songs in his musical career, and they both went to Mayada El Hennawi. She became a muse of sorts, and his last work, Andi Kalam, went to her also. After Mohamed Abdel Wahab's jealous wife had her barred from Egypt, Baligh traveled with his orchestra to Greece to record her songs, as did many of the top composers. Two of the greatest works Baligh Hamdi composed for Mayada are Habbeina (also known as Habbeina Wethabbeina), which is written by Abdel Rehim Mansour and Fatet Sana, written by Sayed Morsi. Habbeina (I've Fallen in Love) is a hopelessly romantic and upbeat tribute to newfound love, while Fatet Sana (A Year Has Passed) is a melancholic song about losing touch with a lover who is far away. The music is characteristic of ever-evolving 1970s-1980s Egyptian music, with a traditional oriental orchestra accompanied by a keyboardist, bassist, and guitarist.

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1. Habbeina
2. Fatet Sana

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Thursday, January 28, 2010

Latifa - Fel Kam Youm Elli Fatou

After radically changing her style in Ma'loumat Akideh, Latifa returned to Egyptian pop in 2008, and it is arguably her best pop album to date. The album has a good share of western influence and rich, traditional instrumentation. The title song, which was a huge departure for composer Walid Saad, mixed traditional strings and percussion with the latest French electro music fad, Tecktonik. The idea was Latifa's, and Tamim did a great job bringing it to life. Ana Arfa is written as a frank telephone call between a woman and her friend, and about why her lover refuses to reconcile with her. The arrangement is simple but rich, and reminiscent of Tamer Ali and Tamim's work on Elissa's Awakher El Sheta. The popular Ya Aghla Alb combines a quintessential Egyptian song with a dabke beat, electric baglama, and sharp strings. Sebni Shiwaya is another hybrid, with traditional low-pitched strings and understated percussion, while the composition could easily be used for a western-style ballad. Hankhaf Men Min's romantic lyrics are complimented by simple and relaxed arrangement from Touma. Ana Omri Ma Hansak has less engaging composition, but the arrangement is solid on Medhat Khamis' part, sounding like a remastered classic. Law Faker is a catchy power ballad, but the arrangement seems a bit lackluster for Tamim's usual work. Bi Yekdeb is Tamer Ali at his best, and the ballad opens with a beautiful ney solo, and then turns into a more jazzy number while still maintaining an oriental air. Konna Zaman, is probably the weakest song, and while it has interesting lyrics, the composition is noisy to say the least. Faker Eih and the cheesy Marina are both Latin numbers, and are fun but forgettable. The album also has songs that harken back to Latifa's early career. Rouhi Betrod Feya, composed by Amjad El Atefi, is a simple love song. Law Sahran Habibi, by Iraqi oud virtuoso Naseer Shamma, is also a beautiful love song, but the orchestra here is bigger and the music, especially the oud, is much more engaging.

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1. Fel Kam Youm Elli Fatou
2. Ana Arfa
3. Ya Aghla Alb
4. Sebni Shiwaya
5. Hankhaf Men Min
6. Ana Omri Ma Hansak
7. Law Faker
8. Bi Yekdeb
9. Konna Zaman
10. Rouhi Betrod Feya
11. Faker Eih
12. Law Sahran Habibi
13. Marina

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Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Diana Karazon - El Omr Mashi

Diana Karazon's second album was less rushed than her debut, and there is a marked difference in style. None of the musicians on Diana's first album are here, but the list is impressive nonetheless with Samir Sfair, Riyad El Hamshari, Ahmed El Hermi, Tarek Madkour, and Tarek Aakef in the mix. The title song, with Nizar Francis' romantic lyrics, Samir Sfair's upbeat composition, and Tarek Madkour's favorite beat, was an instant hit. Min Bi Fekrak, which has the same team, is in the same vein, but more interesting with more engaging composition. Inta Mashi Bgad, composed by Wahid Mamdouh and arranged by Amr Abdel Aziz, is a shot at Egyptian tarab, but apart from the nostalgic value, it has little else. Tarek Aakef experimentation makes Samir Sfair's Khallina Netmarmar a fun song, with Latin, Indian, and Egyptian influences mixed into a quintessential Lebanese song. Hebni Doum, composed and arranged by Ahmed El Hermi, may be labeled a Khaliji song but it sounds more like something from a Disney epic, which is not necessarily a bad thing. Lamma Teb'a Habibi, composed by Riyad El Hamshari, is more Egyptian tarab, but with playful lyrics and upbeat arrangement, it is much more enjoyable than Inta Mashi Bgad. A cross between lounge music and ballad, Mahala is Diana Karazon's first Jordanian song. It's one of the best on the album, with flowing strings, an assortment of reed instruments, electric guitar, and Indian tabla. The upbeat Tes'alni is a more traditional Khaliji song from Ahmed El Hermi and Siruz, and it's almost as good as El Shar Barra We Be'id. The album closes with We Bada't A'ish, an irresistibly catchy maksoum song from Riyad El Hamshari, which Diana's voice takes to real heights.

1. El Omr Mashi
2. Min Bi Fekrak
3. Inta Mashi Bgad
4. Khallini Netmarmar
5. Hebni Doum
6. Lamma Teb'a Habibi
7. Mahala
8. Tes'alni
9. We Bada't A'ish

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Note: Tes'alni is missing, and I do not have the CD right now, I will update the topic in the future, sorry!

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Abo Bakr Salem - Ahtefel Bel Jarh

Love or hate him, Abo Bakr Salem has left his mark on the music of the Gulf. It is largely thanks to him that Yemenite music is still alive and well on the scene. Though the material here is all-new, the Egyptian chorus and orchestra, including Amir Abdel Majid and Tarek Aakef, is still here, and harkens back to the days when Arab singers all traveled to Cairo for the state-of-the-art studios. Abo Bakr is still as soulful as ever with his truly unique style, changing his tone and commenting for dramatic effect. The listener loses themselves in the oud, the ney, and the deep strings that accompany each song. The lyrics are as beautiful as ever too, with songs of pure affection like Moghram Sababa, of loss like Ahtefel Bel Jarh, or of peace like Han Wagt El Lega, which urges Arab nations to forget previous wrongs and come together, using estranged lovers as a metaphor. A great composer, lyricist, and singer, Abo Bakr Salem is unmatched, even when scores of singers now adhere to his school of music.

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1. Ahtefel Bel Jarh
2. Moghram Sababa
3. Samir El Ein
4. Ghessin El Ban
5. Ya Badr
6. Gesher Men El Mouz
7. Han Wagt El Lega

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Monday, January 11, 2010

Ziad Rahbani - Ana Moush Kafer

Being born to Fairuz and Assi Rahbani (the more musical half of the Rahbani Brothers), Ziad must have had huge shoes to fill. In the great tradition of his family, Ziad became a musician, and he plays the piano and the bouzouk, not to mention a lyricist and playwright. Much like the Rahbani Brothers revived traditional Arabic music and introduced it to classical European music, Ziad became a revolutionary. He is best known for being a pioneer of the oriental jazz genre, and is behind many of Fairuz's later hits, such as Kifak Inta, Ma Edert Ensit, and Habbaitak Tansit El Nawm. His knowledge of all these musical styles, along with his sharp views, combines to create something rare. Ana Moush Kafer, musically a piece in the vein of traditional mouwashahat is combined with satirical colloquial lyrics about the corrupt who hide behind faith. Shou Hal Ayam, my personal favorite, opens with a piano solo, played in the style of a kanun solo. The song then continues with a haunting mix of classical east and west, and lyrics about corruption. Aal Nizam is a commentary on the state of society, but the music sounds like something out of a Rahbani Brothers' play, and the ending transforms into an African-style chant. Shou Ada Ma Bada is a prime example of Ziad's playful oriental jazz, while Ysa'ed We Y'in returns to more oriental roots with oud and bouzouk. Bhal Yawmain is another creative political commentary where Sami Hawat's voice shines. Bharf El Shin is a cheekily-titled instrumental piece with bouzouk set to a jazz beat, and Ziad's seemingly intoxicated snickering. The album ends with Bhannik, a classically-influenced and highly satirical dedication to the Lebanese presidency, and Al Mokawama Al Watania Al Lobnania, a more sober song for Lebanon, sung by Farouk Kosa.

1. Ana Moush Kafer
2. Shou Hal Ayam
3. Aal Nizam
4. Shou Ada Ma Bada
5. Ysa'ed We Y'in
6. Bhal Yawmain
7. Bharf El Shin
8. Bhannik
9. Al Mokawama Al Watania Al Lobnania

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Saturday, January 2, 2010

Elissa - Tesaddaq Bi Min

Elissa's long-awaited seventh album has finally been released, and at a time where the ailing Rotana needs it most. Ironically, Elissa's lengthiest album so far has the smallest number of composers, and is noticeably even more lyric-focused than its predecessor. After reasonable success with Khod Balak Alaya last year, Walid Saad is back with five songs, including the title song, a catchy ballad reminiscent of both Jannat's Ana Donyetou and the solo violin from Elissa's own Ayami Bik. Ma Aash Wala Kan adds a fun air of nostalgia with the 1980s pop influence coupled with some strings, even though Nader Abdallah too seems to be reworking his lyrics from Ayami Bik here. Men Gheir Monasba delves into a darker theme, that of an abusive partner, but the quintessential ballad music and beats are slower and less interesting. Eisha Wel Salam is a more jazzy Latin number, and Elissa excels with the genre. Tamim's choice of simple trumpets, strings, and solos is perfect too. Masdouma is like much of the "Egyptian chillout" Tamim excels at with Tamer Ali, except it's composed by Walid Saad. The song is sweet and pleasant but nothing groundbreaking.

Marwan Khoury makes his biggest contribution to Elissa yet here, with three songs. Amri La Rabbi, arranged by Michel Fadel, is an adequate song with hopeful lyrics. Sallemli Alaih, arranged by Nasser El As'ad, brings in the kind of rich, oriental music that Kermalak and Betmoun had. Fi Shi Enkasar is a ballad characteristic of Claude Chalhoub's classically-influenced work and truly makes Elissa's vocals shine amongst the mellow harp and the moody strings. Mohamed Rehim, the man behind the 2002 hit Agmal Ehsas, returns with the beautifully heartfelt We Byestehi as well as the album's weakest song, Eftakart. A Bali Habibi is already wowing audiences with its hopelessly romantic lyrics, but the music itself is surprisingly dull for Salim Salameh and Chalhoub. Strangely, Tamer Ali, arguably Elissa's hitmaker over the past four years, has only one song, Ma Ta'rafsh Leih. The song is another relaxed piece, but his collaboration with Claude Chalhoub is interesting. Another surprise comes with the inclusion of Law Fiyeh, a 1970s Aida Chalhoub song, composed by Elias Rahbani and renewed by Jad Rahbani. Elissa had begun singing the song at events, but the version on the album is another testament to her vocals. While the album is hardly groundbreaking, why change a good thing?

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1. Tesaddaq Bi Min
2. A Bali Habibi
3. Men Gheir Monasba
4. Amri La Rabbi
5. Fi Shi Enkasar
6. Ma Aash Wala Kan
7. Sallemli Alaih
8. Law Fiyeh
9. Eftakart
10. We Byestehi
11. Ma Ta'rafsh Leih
12. Eisha Wel Salam
13. Masdouma

256 Kbps + Covers