Abbar el Hamada

Aziza Brahim

Glitterbeat Records, 2016

REVIEW BY: Tom Haugen


Aziza Brahim is an artist whose talents were born out of being raised in dire conditions in desert camps in Algeria. By the age of 11, she had her heart set on making music but wasn't able to fully realize her dreams until many years later. Having been raised in a Saharawi refugee camp and residing in exile in both Cuba and then later Spain, Brahim is both an artist and an activist, and her song craft understandably explores the trials and tribulations of migrant and refugee life.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

“Buscando La Paz” starts off with a strong melody and layered vocals. “Calles De Daija” follows and is a more rowdy affair with an overwhelming Western feeling. “El Canto De La Arena” is a quieter song (and even come with flutes), ballad-like and with breezy touches that are sung in Spanish. “El Wad” has organs and mesmerizing guitar work, while “La Cordillera Negra” is a moodier song, with plenty of guitar acrobatics that I doubt few others could replicate.

The second half of the album leads with the haunting title track before the slow, emotive blues of “Mani,” which is a giant shift in direction with a heavy Middle Eastern influence and one of the best moments here. The album ends on “Los Muros,” a sophisticated conclusion that discusses the wall constructed by Moroccans, but not before the meticulous guitar melodies of “Intifadi” that are nothing short of enthralling.  

This is an album that embraces traditional Saharawi and Mediterranean sounds as well as West African rhythms and Latin influences, often utilizing them all within one song. Brahim's angelic voice soars so precisely in tune with the eclectic and graceful songs. With plenty of emphasis on the creative side of music, but with a genuine attempt at communication, this is a fine example of turning tragedy into meaningful, timeless art.

Rating: A

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