Ya Nass

Yasmine Hamdan

Kwaidan/Crammed Discs Records, 2014


REVIEW BY: Tom Haugen


Lebanese Renaissance woman Yasmine Hamdan has been busy. While residing in Beirut, she formed Soapkills, an early electronic duo that had an immeasurable impact on music in the Middle East. Following her relocation to France, she started recording with CocoRosie and Mirwais while also working on a solo career that branched off into some acting.

Though her self-titled solo disc was released two years ago and embraced well on her part of the world, we're now seeing an international edition titled my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250 Ya Nass, with five additional, new songs that keep her roots alive with ideas from her formative years as well as acoustic indie folk and dreamy electro-pop.

“Deny” starts the album off with dense rhythms and a darker feel, which spills over to the following track “Shouei.” The twinkling acoustic guitar leads the song with a feel similar to Peasant, and combined with Hamdan's breathy vocals, it's a tune that wouldn't be out of place at any coffeehouse in America, minus the Arabic singing of course.

“Samar” is where the electronica comes into the equation, although in a more upbeat fashion compared to the beginning of the disc. “Enta Fen, Again” follows and continues on, paving a trip-hop and mysterious path which brings to mind a less bleak Portishead. As alluded to earlier, this entire disc is in Arabic, though it covers many different dialects so each song has its own unique feel. Often times, it's hard to even notice she's not singing English, though in the case of “La Mouch,” where she really enunciates, it's a pop spirited tune that dips into chilling ebbs.

Though the front end of this disc has moments of pop fun and the memorable chorus of “Nediya” could easily have mainstream appeal, the second half of the disc is much more reserved and seemingly contemplative. “Aleb” leads with gentle pianos and remains calm throughout, and later tracks like atmospheric “Hal” seem fraught with tension and despair.

Unless Middle Eastern sounds are your genre of choice, there's a pretty good chance you've never heard anything like this. While her pop rock influences are certainly on par with what's going on in the Western world, she keeps her roots nearly at the surface most of time, making Ya Nass a collection of tunes that is easily embraced regardless of where you live on the globe.

Rating: B+

User Rating: Not Yet Rated



© 2014 Tom Haugen and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Kwaidan/Crammed Discs Records, and is used for informational purposes only.