Nominally lullabies from around the Middle East, this breathy and exceptional album by the Iranian-born Canadian-resident Ali -- singer in the band Niyaz -- becomes something much more hypnotic as here keening voice explores those delightful microtones common in the music of the region.
Very much the global citizen -- she lived in India as a child, relocated to LA with her mother in '85, studied santoor, and cites Hildegard Von Bingen and Lakshmi Shankar as equal influences -- Ali draws the material here from Persia, Palestine, various Kurdish communities and Turkey.
And although they are lullabies (she has a young son) they have an eerie and often hauntingly beautiful quality which is underscored by strings, oud, unusual percussion and fiddle. So while this could have erred towards Enya-kitsch it feels much more grounded and filled with some ineffable sense of yearning.
Songs like the Turkish Dandini, the mysterious Nami Nami and dramatic Shirin (which would put no child to sleep) will sweep you away to what used to be called "the mystic East".
Her own songs Faith and Tenderness ease in effortlessly for their timeless quality also.
This is quite a remarkable album, but don't expect to use it to get the kids off to sleep. Savour it yourself in the quiet time after they've nodded off over Cat in the Hat.
Want something about lullabies but rather different, and sometimes more scary? Try this.
FOR OTHER 'BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2011' ALBUMS GO HERE.
By Graham Reid, posted