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World Music CD Reviews Middle East & North Africa


Published March 3, 2006

Ark 21

Youm Wara Youm

Ellitmane Toh

These three discs are from established artists from the Middle East, each trying to draw lines in the sonic sands of the Western world.  Samira Said’s North American debut Youm Wara Youm is a spunky set from the Moroccan songbird who has had over 20 album releases in Cairo. A duet with Cheb Mami on the title track is catchy but showy as it pounds the listener with a barrage of dueling vocals and high-maintenance percussion, delivering as much posing as it does performing. Most of the record is filled with commercial songs flavored with Arabic-fused drum loops with slinky synths and flashy vocal stacks, so crucial to jockey for position with today’s pop product. Nawal Al Zoghbi’s record stands on similar ground as it incorporates much of the same electronic elements and the same amount of pop spark. Ellitmane Toh pulses with vibrant keyboards along a more subtle, yet potent vocal delivery creating a dicey depth to the piece. Earth…Peace from legendary Arab singer Mohamed Mounir trades the dance beats for more traditional Arabic and Nubian-influenced style and more organic instrumentation. Mounir stays the truest of the three to his Middle Eastern musical roots while sharing the same vision as Al Zoghbi and Said, a plan to fill the world with their superstar sounds.