After a four- year suspension from her career, Samira Said finally returns with Ayam Hayati (Days of My Life), her third and last installment of records with Alam el Phan. Deemed as the Madonna of the Middle East due to her age that is rapidly approaching 50, and her constantly evolving package of image and sound, that dates back to the early 80s, Samira Said, the Arabic pop veteran needs no introduction to the Middle Eastern music scene.
After having literally played the record 109 times and counting, it is safe to say that the album was worth the wait. Ayam Hayati is the record that all Arabic artists aspire to make. With record companies like Rotana and Alam el Phan that demand to release 8 or 10 track bubble-gum albums at the speed of light, Ayam Hayati, a substantial 14 track record, reminds us of rare instances where every single track on the album seems like it were meant to be the hit single.
Opening with an energetic ode to love at first sight, Awam Kedda (Right from the Get-Go) is laden with complex harmonies and sounds that Samira herself layers along with her voice. Hob Mayous Menoh (A Hopeless Love Affair), the first single from the album is an unconventional, infectious hit with cutting-edge lyrics and beats. Ad el Kelma (Worth Your Words) exposes a street-smart Samira. The almost rap kind of track is a color and vibrant mix of drums, accordions and bagpipes. If there were such a thing that was called Arabic Reggae-ton, this is what it would sound like. Ana Keteer Alaik (Too Good for You) is the first ballad on the record, an epic track packed with remorse. El Fadl Yerga'lak (Gratitude Goes to You) is a dazzling track with Latino and Jazzy nuances. What shines most in this song is Samira's scat singing. It simply blends so beautifully with the music's instrumental arrangement. Nefsee Atkalim (Wish to Speak), the second ballad is a dramatic song with a grand chorus. Ayounak Odami (Your Eyes in Front of Me) is most definitely one of the records highlights. Experimental, it echoes the Bee Gees and Michael Jackson in its vocal harmonies. Additionally, the incorporation of the electric guitar (an element most modern day Arab artists are yet to master with their music) blends amazingly, leaving you wondering if this were a Santana and Samira Said collaboration.
Sha'et el Zorouf (Fate of Circumstance) is a pulsating, theatrical dance track. Catchy with its lyrics and beats, this is perfect for clubbing and cruising along the corniche. Wanna Ma'ak (When I'm with You) is another great track. Comfortable and relaxing, everything on this song seems effortless and natural. Much like a breeze on a summer day, the words, music and guitar are all in perfect harmony. Mestahmelak Ana (Being Patient with You) is a traditional, gypsy, Arabesque track that is packed with vigor and an amazing rap-like interruption towards the end of the song. Kefaya Keda (Enough is Enough) takes us back to hurt and sadness through a melodious delivery. Mayhemenish Bokra (Don't Care About Tomorrow) is probably the strongest ballad on Ayam Hayati. Condensed with vocal emotion and melody, there is the spectacular marriage of violin and drums. Lehe'et Izzay (When and How) is the quintessential Egyptian ballad. With a more traditional music arrangement, the track could very well be featured on the newest Egyptian soap this coming Ramadan.
Lastly, the record closes with Ayam Hayati. This non-traditional track has some really good production, remarkable arrangement and interesting lyrics. Having said that, that is what ushered some of Ayam Hayati's criticism. In some moments the record really seems over produced and overtly studio-ized. Possibly a side effect of being 4 years in the making, the record could have still been as triumphant if it captured Samira Said more vocally and acoustically. Especially with songs like El Fadl Yerga'lak where the track could have been more bossa nova sounding - more chill on the instruments and more focus on vocal delivery. Who knows, maybe someone can convince Samira Said to release and unplugged version of Ayam Hayati...
It's so great album, my favorite are: second track (Hob Mayous Menoh), and the 8th one (Shaat al Zourof), 13th (Lehaat Ezay),14th (Ayam Hayati)...
The Original Arab Diva is Back And Better Than Ever.
Samira Said never seems to disappoint me with her music, after her 4 year-long hiatus, she comes back with this amazing record, all her songs are dominating the radio stations' airplay. Seems like she will win the World Music Award for best selling arab artist for 2008 and hope she does because she deserves it more than anyone else. My Favorite tracks are: Awam Keda, Hob Mayous Meno, Ad El Kelma, El Fadel Yrgalak, Oyonak Odami, Shait el Zooroof, Mestahmilak Ana, And Ayam Hayati