06 September 2009

New Khaled: Less Foolish, More Fierce

Khaled: Liberte
(Wrasse)Khaled - Liberte - on SoundRoots.org

I've seen this album with two covers. One version shows a staid Khaled posing as another blank-faced Khaled sits at a mixing board with a lovely woman looking over his shoulder. The second version shows the famed Algerian singer alone, standing with arms outstretched, face contorted in ecstatic song.

Khaled and his rai music have always been about powerful emotions, so I'll take the album behind cover #2, thank you. The mixing board may actually deceive some listeners; in the past Khaled (or his producer) has leaned heavily on synth sounds, and of course rai is known for heavy vocorder use. Liberte brings a far more acoustic sound, with rich orchestrations that eschew electronics and provide a wonderful backdrop for Khaled's stunning vocal surges.
Cheb Khaled - Liberte - on SoundRoots.org
Whatever it is that Khaled that has brought Khaled a new found liberty (heaven knows I can't understand any of his lyrics!), this album is a beautifully crafted blend, with strong musicians supporting but never overshadowing the singer. Early favorites include the gnawa-infused "Gnaoui" and "Sidi Rabbi (My God)," in which the singer pleads for forgiveness for the foolish things he's done in his lifetime. This marvelous album will not be counted among those.

More Cheb Khaled:
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