Natacha Atlas


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Atlas' second solo record -- for some strange reason never released in America, where the first and third were -- continues in her vein of excellent Arabic singing combined with a wide variety of musical traditions, modern and ancient. Working with four distinct cowriting/production groups this time around, including her collaborators in Transglobal Underground in one group and, in another, Killing Joke mainman Jaz Coleman (pursuing his other interest in orchestrations), Atlas again creates an intoxicating series of love songs, all sung in Arabic but with lyrical snippets printed in English. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the most technological and dancefloor-friendly numbers are done with the Transglobal crowd, who work on about half the album's tracks. "Moustahil" and "Amulet" both feature shuffling dance beats and loops along with a number of performers on such instruments as oud and dharabuka, plus energetic backing vocals from duo Sawt El Atlas. Coleman's tracks, "Enogoom Wil Amar" and "Andeel," equally deserve notice for Atlas' vocals and his own striking, lush arrangements, while her collaboration with Egyptian musician/orchestra leader Essam Rashad, "Ya Albi Ehda," is a beauty in the vein of older Arabic popular music. No matter who's working with her performing what, though, it's Atlas' show all the way, her singing shimmering out with all the beauty one could ever want in a vocalist.

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