Reem Kelani: Sprinting Gazelle (2006)

 |   |  1 min read

Yearning
Reem Kelani: Sprinting Gazelle (2006)

Subtitled "Palestinian Songs from the Motherland and the Diaspora", this sometimes astonishing debut album remains breathtaking in its scope -- from a lullaby to a moving song of mourning, to tracks with jazzy saxophone or melancholy piano, and lengthy explorations of melody and emotions.

And singer Kelani announced herself as possessing a keening, hypnotic voice as she wove around the microtones.

This was not exactly what listeners might have expected coming out of Manchester (aka Madchester) in the mid 2000s, but that's where this daughter of expat parents from the West Bank and near Nazareth was born.

And if we'd caught a snapshot of her as a pre-teen when she was lisening to Western classical music and the songbooks of the Gershwins and Irving Berlin (her father's favourites) there would have been little to suggest the direction she might go in.

Her epiphany came as a teenager when she attended a family wedding in a village near Nazareth and was taken by Arabic and Palestinian music.

Although she continued to sing Gershwin, she also deeply explored those other traditions which came to maturity with this album, released to universal acclaim in world music circles. And beyond.

Mainstream media in Britain accorded her considerable space and were unanimous in their praise for her moving interpretations.

(Elsewhere at the time wrote, " Nominations for World Music album of the year start here').

There is the pain of the Palestinian plight here obviously (have a handkerchief on hand for Yafa sung over spare piano, or soak in the beautiful 10-minute Yearning) but there is a also celebratory spirit (the uplifting title track which she learned from some women in a refugee camp in South Lebanon -- and where might they be today?).

And the whole thing -- which feels far too brief at 75 moving minutes -- ends with an uplifting, optimistic and chant-like glimpse of a peaceful future: "Thank God, my heart's patience is rewarded . . . Praise God that sorrow is no more".

This is an extraordinary album, full of poetic lyrics (in translation in the handsome booklet), heart-grabbing emotion and thrilling music.


Share It

Your Comments

post a comment

More from this section   Essential articles index

Donna Summer, Bad Girls (1979)

Donna Summer, Bad Girls (1979)

In musical arguments, as with political ones, the area of grey between the black and white can be as big as the other two combined. History books say you were either a Beatles or a Stones fan,... > Read more

Merle Haggard: If I Could Only Fly (2000)

Merle Haggard: If I Could Only Fly (2000)

At the time of this writing in mid 2012, Merle Haggard is 73 and actually, against every preconception we might have about his tough, booze-afflicted life and hard travelling -- he' still looking... > Read more

Elsewhere at Elsewhere

PITCH BLACK INTERVIEWED (2000): Lightning striking again and again . . .

PITCH BLACK INTERVIEWED (2000): Lightning striking again and again . . .

Lightning sears the walls, neon tubes dance along the screen, mobile tie-dye patterns hover in the mist. And all the while, pulsing, ever-changing electronic music triggers the images, ebbs and... > Read more

Richard's slightly Spanish paella thing with chorizo sausages

Richard's slightly Spanish paella thing with chorizo sausages

Richard admits that he may have seen something like this in "weekend magazine" supplement, but he's tampered with it a little until it is now perfect -- or at least to his taste.... > Read more