The Upshot: The singer/songwriter’s album fronts defiance of oppression everywhere, but comes equally loaded with optimism and hope.
BY MICHAEL TOLAND
Aziza Brahim had it rough when she was young. Born in a Saharawi refugee camp in the Algerian desert, she’s lived in exile from her home for two decades, currently residing in Barcelona. The singer/songwriter hasn’t let that poison her outlook, however. Her latest album Abbar el Hamada fronts defiance of oppression everywhere, but comes equally loaded with optimism and hope.
Over accessible grooves derived from the same source used by groups like Tinariwen and Terakaft, Brahim sings with an easy tone that coils her passion into a tight spring, rather than shoot it out of a cannon. “El wad” and the title track spark a brightly but not furiously burning flame; “El canto de la arena” and “Los muros” add a strain of melancholia that leavens, rather than obscures, the hope. The nimble, melodic guitar work of Kalilou Sangare and Ignasi Cussó adds beautifully-wrought webs of sound in support of her supple singing. Abbar el Hamada is a textbook example of turning hard times into hopeful art.
DOWNLOAD: “El wad,” “El canto de la arena,” “Abbar el Hamada”