Wednesday, September 7, 2011

CD Review: Comoros Islands' Nawal

Embrace The Spirit
Milan Records

Hailing from the Comoros Islands off of Africa's Eastern shore, Nawal continues to dazzle us with her Sufi-inspired collection of songs. Throughout the album, Nawal's voice 'embraces the spirit' of humanity by transcending cultures, borders, and history. On "For A Dignified Humanity," Nawal sings about the plight of Tunisian men and women. The track also features some high-pitched ululation in the background indicative of African and Middle Eastern folk and religious music. A variety of soothing instrumentation accompanies the meditative vocalizations. For example, the gambusi, flute, mbira, and daf are a few of the instruments utilized. The mbira is especially intriguing on "Mama Baraka." The folksy "Breath Of The Sea" features a flute and rainstick-like shaker without any vocals. Peace and tranquility is the message of the album with several songs touching on mystic poetry, mantras, Shona poetry, and baraka (blessings). Compared to previous albums, Embrace The Spirit is a bit more traditional and low-key. Nonetheless, Nawal knows how to entertain our spirit and grace our presence with her divine musical prowess. ~ Matthew Forss   

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