In 2015, a trio of Israeli sisters landed a surprise hit with their single "Habib Galbi," a vivid update of an old Yemeni folk song refracted through 21st century hip hop and dance beats. With its infectious grooves, compelling imagery, and thrilling three-part harmonies, it became the first Arabic-language song to top Israel's pop charts. The project of Tair, Liron, and Tagel Haim, A-Wa fuse the cultures of their Yemenite heritage and Israeli upbringing with a global panoply of tones and beats borrowed from reggae, pop, electronic, and myriad other styles. With several years of international touring under their belt, the Haim sisters return with their similarly eclectic sophomore effort, Bayti Fi Rasi. Working this time with Balkan Beat Box drummer Tamir Muskat -- their debut was produced by Muskat's bandmate, Tomer Yosef -- as producer, A-Wa expand on their signature sound while building a loose narrative around their great grandmother's journey from Yemen to Israel in the late 1950s. Bearing the weight and wisdom of their ancestral past, A-Wa somehow make their music feel nimble and funky, dipping in and out of harmony and trading rapid-fire lyrics back and forth over a mix of quirky samples, dynamic beats, and tasteful leads that range from bright synths to swooping strings. An undeniable power radiates from the Haim sisters, whether on the punchy vocal deliveries of "Mudbira" and the title track or the soaring harmonies of the wondrously uplifting "Shama's." Their effortless mix of confidence, creativity, and attitude is captivating and makes Bayti Fi Rasi's underlying tones of empowerment and respect seem like nothing more than the natural order of the world.
Bayti Fi Rasi Review
by Timothy Monger