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From Night to the Edge of Day

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Album Review

If you think you detect a bittersweet edge to the songs brought together on this collection of lullabies performed by Niyaz vocalist Azam Ali, you're right. Her interpretations of these melodies — which come from a variety of cultural traditions — are informed by her belief that lullabies are intended as much for the comfort of the adults who sing them as for the soothing of the infants and children to whom they are sung, and that they often communicate much about our attempts to deal with the harshness and sorrow of the world. None of this is to say that this album, which was conceived after the birth of her first child, is gloomy or difficult; it is somewhat dark at times, and to Western ears, it may frequently sound exotic and mysterious, but the songs are invariably tender and loving, even when they are simultaneously mesmerizing and mystical. When word got out among her friends that she was putting together this program, material came to her from several different directions: the great Palestinian oud player Naser Musa wrote the song "Faith" for her, and a friend shared with her the traditional Turkish song "Neni Desem." Others led her to songs of the Iraqi Kurds ("Lai Lai") and the Iranian Azeris ("Shirin"). Many of these songs have no regular rhythm, and most are accompanied by a motley assortment of strings, reed instruments, and percussion. None is less than lovely, and the variety of ways in which they are lovely is very impressive, as is Ali's voice itself.

From Night to the Edge of Day, Azam Ali
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