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Natacha Atlas - Strange Days: Album review

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This album is a fusion of cultures and two musical genres in which jazz, and the passion of Arabic music, come together as one.

It has to be heard to really appreciate how wonderful and unique it is.

Vocalist Natacha Atlas was born to an Egyptian father and a British mother, as was her collaborator Samy Bishai, the violinist, composer/arranger and producer that she has teamed up with.

Musician Natacha Atlas. Image by Samir Bahrir.
Musician Natacha Atlas. Image by Samir Bahrir.

To make this album, they explain that they were both drawn to the idea of combining Arabic scales and textures with the changes and harmonic language of jazz. So, you will hear the jazz intro of a piano, with horns kicking in, before Natacha’s exotic vocals begin. Sometimes she sings in English, sometimes in Arabic.

In track two ‘Maktoub’ (sung in Arabic), hip-hop and Tsifteteli rhythms combine with portamento strings, with choral unison.

Then, there’s a samba feel to the track ‘Sunshine Day’ with Brazilian rhythm guitar and strings.

Soul singer Joss Stone duets and also sings backing vocals on the track ‘Words of a King’ and the James Brown classic ‘It’s a Man’s World,’ gets a new ‘smoky, sensual film noir feel.’

The album is out now.

Reviewed by Zoe Myall

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