A Lebanese Arab American artist who is currently residing in the Bay Area, Naima Shalhoub brings her strong vocal presence and compositional skills to this debut studio album that came to life after being holed up in a Beirut apartment on a family trip.
“One (Remembrance)” starts the listen with soaring vocal harmonies, cultured percussion and intricate string picking illuminating the soothing atmosphere, and “Two (Rivers In The Desert)” continues the setting with strong, expressive vocals in a bare climate that mesmerizes.
Elsewhere, “Five (The Calling")” brings in Excentrik, Marcus Shelby and Ed Baskerville into a piano fueled album highlight of soulful song craft, while “Six (Distraction Suite)” offers a percussively bright and pop influenced shift into experimental territory that also gets sparse and jazz friendly, too.
At the end, “Eight (Arab Amerikkki)”mixes talking and singing in the hip-hop meets blues environment that’s as innovative as it is fascinating, and “Nine (The Return)” exits the listen with 6 minutes of exploration that puts a firm exclamation point on the massive creativity present.
Shalhoub handles vocals, keys and both rhythm and acoustic guitars here, while the contributors hold down cello, bass, Oud, guitar and drums, and together they create a very personal listen that certainly embraces Shalhoub’s Arab roots, while exploring plenty of World Music ideas as well as her current Western life on this exceptional first studio album.