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The Impossible Love

Kadim Al Sahir

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Album Review

Al Saher's American debut is little short of a revelation. The Egyptian-based Iraqi singer has been a name in the Gulf states for several years, but his particular mix of pop and Middle Eastern classical elements marks him as doing something very different from run-of-the-mill Arab pop. He certainly has a voice of epic proportions, although he rarely unleashes it to its full extent, relying instead on subtlety to carry him through tracks like "Al Mustabeddah." But he manages to have a good commercial edge to the title track and "La Titnahad," which appears here three times, first in its original incarnation, then a Transglobal Underground remix, and finally a video. To be fair, it's a good single, but other, more rooted material that relies less on drum programs suits Al Saher's voice and neo-classical style better. Love songs of all different stripes are his real stock-in-trade, which is why "Rakhasit Dam'ee" and "Waledee Al Tayeb" work so well. Their emotions are utterly Arabic, and even the music makes little concession to the West. It's completely unselfconscious, and the man at his best, aided by imaginative arrangements. What the future holds for Al Saher in America remains to be seen, but, on the basis of this, if he sticks to his guns, artistic bankruptcy won't be a problem.

The Impossible Love, Kadim Al Sahir
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