Monday, May 11, 2009

George Wassouf - Allah Kareem 2009

After a couple of listens to this album, I decided to write this post about it. "Allah Kareem" is the new album by Syrian singer, George Wassouf - he has Lebanese nationality too... if you know what I mean, common people from both countries adore him.

While I am waiting for the official copy of this album to arrive from Syria, I couldn't wait more and thanks to the internet, I managed to get another copy, which became the basis for this review.

The album begins with El Sabr Tayeb, a slow Kanun intro (played live), followed by a fast Sherqi beat, and a dominant Saba Maqam (scale). It is a nice starter, but not very impressing to me, maybe because I am not a big Saba Maqam fan. Yet, listening through to the half of song made me realize the intensity and power of such a sad (lyrically) song. The song ends like in a loop, as if saying that there is another part that was decided to cut due to the length of the song!! Conclusion? the fist song is simply amazing, there is no doubt about.

If there is someone who would say El Sabr Tayeb is not up to the expectation, I became later sure that Sultan al Tarab (As Wassouf also known in the Arab world) knew the trick and how to surprise his fans with the other six songs to follow. The evidence is with the album self-titled song, Allah Kareem. It is one of my favorites on this album. There is an attempt in this song to create a modern flamenco beat, mixed with some rock n' roll flavor. The highlight on this song is the beautiful classic guitar shredding. I don't need to point out to the gorgeousely warm and emotional way Al Wassouf is singing on this song. Yet, I don't know if this song is an attempt to re-create a similar hype to the 2002 hit "Habbeet Army Al Shabak"!

The third song is El Ayam De Sa'bah Shiwe, and it is my favorite from this album. It is like a big WOOOOW... From the Saz (or Buzuq) intro till the end, it is just sensational. The melody, the strings arrangements, the beat, and above all the singing and the lyrics that tells the story of support and love through hard time. The song written by Hany Al Sagheer, and this is his second cooperation with Sultan Al Tarab (The first is "Qool Il Kilmeteen" from the 2003 album). The fourth song is Shokren, to me is the strangest song on this album because of the way it was built lyrically and musically alike, with a lot of outbeats and the method the lyrics mingling into the melody. However, without reading checking the liner notes on the CD one would recognise the composing style of Waleed Saad.

With every new album release by George Wassouf, the media as well as the fans are expecting surprises. This time, Al Wassouf did that with the song number 5, Men Hena W Rayeh, because I never heard George Wassouf sings ballads mixed with some wahda beat flavor. The next song, number 6, is a 24 carat gold, and the song name is called Gold, or Il Dahab Ya Habeeby, a cover song originally done by none than another legendary singer called Abu Majd - on a lesser level known as the great Milhem Barakat. George Wassouf sang this song one time (at least the only time I have seen it on TV) before recording it: he did that on Al Arrab talk show last year. This song is my second favorite song on this album. The last song from this album is another BIG surprise, to me at least! La Trooh is a song in the realm of "Al Sahily" or more known as "Dabka", known in Lebanon and north Syria (along coastal line of Lattakia and Tartuus). The song can make a very good candidate for live performance, and with this song, Sultan Al Tarab prooved once again that despite age, illness, fabrications, he is still cabable of making true music regardless of style, genre, or scale. This also ensured that the legacy of such a legendary singer will remain, and the love by his fans will also be eternal.

If someone ask me which song would be the right candidate to be the first video clip from this album, I would say it is either "La Trooh", or "Allah Kareem". I am trying to imagine the cute gasping Ghina Emyoni (from Rotana's "Akher Akhbar" (lastest News)) happy and prepare herself to confront Al Wassouf like she did on the making of As'ab Furaq last year - it cracked me up when Ghina raised her hand to stop George Wassouf from moving away from the camera to ask him one more question and saying "One minute, Abu Wadee", he looked at her with a risen eyebrow and hidden smile, then he looked at the people around him and said "who is this girl? anyone lost his baby girl?" and snapped away from the camera sight.

As I mentioned earlier, the sound on Allah Kareem is fresh. In fact, I could say that this album has more energy than its predecessor. It is reflected in the variation of topics in each song, in the maqams used, in the beat and rythem, even in the mixing. In addition, the voice of George Wassouf is also sounded more relaxed on the majority of the songs on this album. If I would make a comparison, something I hate to do between a new and previous releases of an artist, if I do so I would say that this album won over the 2008 album, Kalamak Ya Habeeby. I don't want to be misunderstood, Kalamak Ya Habeeby is a great album, I wrote about As'ab Furaq some time ago..., you know, but the 2008 album lacked the energy the new album showed.

All songs on the album "Allah Kareem" were recorded in Saba Studios, in Beirut, Lebanon. This is the same studio George Wassouf used to record his albums since his third official album release more than 10 years ago to this day. All the songs on the new album were mixed by Tony Saba, except for El Sabr Tayeb and Shokran, they were mixed by Adel Ayche (both men worked on two previous Wassouf albums). Yet, and I have to say that: in spite of all what I said about the album, in spite of my happiness and gratitude with the new work done, I still miss the ZaWa'edy touch on the mixing board. This post is a testimony of the great work in mixing too, but I am confident that if Mazen Zawa'edy was there to mix "Allah Kareem", the end result would be completely different... songs like "Inte Gheerhum", "Youm Al Wada'" and "Ma'rafsh gheer Hubbek Ja gameel" are living proof.

One thing I did not understand: why there is an S put with the name George on the cover of the album?

Track Listing
1 El Sabr Tayeb
2 Allah Kareem
3 El Ayam De Sa'bah Shiwe
4 Shokran
5 Men Hena W Rayeh
6 El Dahab Ya Habibi
7 La Trooh


3ammo said...

Excellent review. Thanks for sharing. El Dahab was my personal favorite.

MixMax said...

Hi 3ammo, thanks YOU for the visit. Glad you liked the review. Great album indeed.

I am going for sure to pay another visit on your beautiful site.

why do I have the feeling that blend and mix has something in common?


3ammo said...

Thanks Mix, the feeling is mutual :)

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Anonymous said...

I love this album especially "dahab ya habibi" and what the lyrics mean.... Great song and album... Go George Wassouf... You're the best...

Anonymous said...

I love all the songs..
Can someine please translate el sabir tayib for me.
Its the best