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Samra Review

by Chris Nickson

Faudel is the young successor to the crown of rai, waiting in line behind Khaled the King, and Cheb Mami the Crown Prince. But on the evidence of this, his time won't be too long in coming. Born and raised in France, he looks outward from the style to encompass other genres, like "Mantes-La Jolie," which moves firmly into Marvin Gaye's "Sexual Healing" territory, or "Rohi," which grafts 21st Century techno-funk onto rai (admittedly, not too successfully). "Salsa Raï," his duet with Yuri Buenaventura, works better, and illustrates the connections between the music and their wild flair. Vocally, he's at his best on songs like the sweeping "Couleurs de Tom Ame," with its swooning Arab strings, or the big ballad "Je Me Souviens," rather than the electro-pop textures of the title cut. But there's little doubt that as a singer, he's a star, and a major player in rai's future. One listen to the epic "Paris-Le Caire" is enough to convince; the album's final cut, and its most epic, it hews close to rai's Algerian roots in its sparse melody and desert beats before opening in an orchestral arrangement that blooms like a flower, inventive and exotic. A brilliant finale.

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