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Kelmti Horra - Emel Mathlouthi

Emel Mathlouthi Audio CD
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
Price: £14.85 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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Product details

  • Audio CD (6 Feb 2012)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: World Village
  • ASIN: B0065HDMAM
  • Other Editions: MP3 Download
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 112,600 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Product Description


Here's a world diva with a difference. Mathlouthi's lament for her homeland, "Ya Tounes Ya Meskina" (Poor Tunisia), became a soundtrack to last year's uprising, along with the celebratory "Kelmti Horra" (My Word is Free). Arriving after several years of exile in France, this debut twists together Arabic roots with western flavours some rock (Mathlouthi plays guitar and cites Joan Baez as an influence) but mostly cavernous trip-hop. The mix works well on stand-outs "Dhalem" and "Ma Ikit", where Mathlouthi's striking vocals find most melody; elsewhere, the understandably serious mood of protest and sadness flatlines somewhat. A powerful new voice, none the less. --Neil Spencer, The Observer, 19th February 2012

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Emel Mathlouthi - even better live! 4 Aug 2013
Format:Audio CD
The review of this Album and the sample track in Songlines magazine instilled some interest in me. Then I discovered that she would be performing at Womad 2013 and I took more notice of the whole album and subsequently downloaded from another site. I earmarked Emel as one to see at the festival. During a workshop where she sang a few songs with just her guitar and talked about her life I realised that she isn't a 'run of the mill' artist. I looked forward to hearing more at her main performance later that same day. WOW! That's all I can say. What a performance! She had a very tight band with her, and the songs came to life with so much power and emotion. I was lucky enough to speak to her briefly after the show, realising even more that (for myself at least) she is a very special artist. If you enjoy what you hear on this album, and Emel is performing within your reach, you MUST go and see her! You won't be disappointed. The next album is due to be released next Spring. Just as well that time passes by quickly! Now I must buy the CD version of this album so that I have the English translations of the songs!
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1 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Powerful Voice. 10 May 2012
Format:Audio CD|Verified Purchase
Emel Malthouthi is the Voice of the "Arab Spring". If anyone wants to comprehend the "Spirit of Liberation", this recording will be a necessity for you.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.8 out of 5 stars  5 reviews
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Power of Music: Emel Mathlouthi's Jasmine Revolution 7 May 2012
By Sue Leigh Waugh - Published on
Format:Audio CD
Among the iconic images to emerge from the "Arab Spring" was a YouTube video of a stylish young Tunisian woman singing a capella, surrounded by chanting demonstrators during the final weeks of President Ben Ali's regime. The singer was Emel Mathlouthi and in the video she sings her signature song, "Kelmti Horra" (My Word is Free).

Despite her youth, (the French wiki page lists her birthday as January 11, 1982), Mathlouthi has already absorbed a wide-range of musical influences: from western and Arabic classical music at home, to Dylan, Pink Floyd and Joan Baez (so claims her biography...). In retrospect, the most significant encounters in Mathlouthi's artistic development were the poetry of Mahmoud Darwish and the music of Palestinian folk singer Marcel Khalife. Her identification with the Palestinian cause gave her music a new sense of seriousness and purpose. In 2007, Mathlouthi immigrated to Paris where she connected with the musical and cultural life of the North African Diaspora there and further broadened her musical experience through collaborations with progressive DJs and producers such as Tricky and CharlElie Couture.

Mathlouthi's first international release is a remarkably mature and consistent effort. She sings in Arabic, French and English and her arrangements, most of which prominently feature an acoustic string ensemble and Tunisian percussion, reflect influences of "arabesque" and classical Tunisian Malouf, deftly blended with Trip Hop atmospherics and an art rock sensibility.

From the very first track (Houdou'on (Calm)), you are gripped by the sound of Mathlouthi's rich, unaccompanied voice. A gentle wash of electronics and later, a string trio establish a strong sense of locale, weaving a distinctive tapestry of sound, rich in the musical traditions of the Maghreb. From here, we follow Mathlouthi as she tells the story of her Tunisia, "...the story of the dark years as seen through my eyes: through my experience as a student, a young rebel and dissenter, through my years of artistic and ideological struggle, and through my immigrant tears, my suffering and my love of freedom."

Standout tracks include Ma lkit (Not Found), a passionate lament about life's obstacles and the rarity of friends and "Dhalem" (Tyrant), whose gentle opening sounds almost like a lullaby before blossoming with near-operatic vocals sung in classical Arabic to a dirge-like cadence. At the other end of the spectrum, both "Stranger" (sung in English) and "Hinama" (When) are deeply indebted to Bjork, but it's the title track, Kelmti Horra (My Word Is Free) that steals the show: its calm confidence and tight vocal harmonies transcend place and time - there is little wonder how this became the theme for Tunisia's Jasmine Revolution.

Make no mistake, Mathlouthi's songs are political, as indeed all art is politically bound by the circumstance in which it was created, but do not expect any adrenaline-filled martial anthems or urgently voiced histrionics. Much of the album plays like a late night meditation, something much more intimate than a "call to action" and herein is Mathlouthi's genius: she persuades us with a whisper and not a shout.

"Kelmti Horra" is an eloquent and thoughtful document of the "Arab Spring" but even more, it presents Mathlouthi as a sensitive and gifted songwriter, able to draw upon a wide range of influences and fuse them into something beautiful and moving. I can only hope that out of the current tragedy in Syria that similar voices may arise to prick our conscience.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Absolutely stunning 6 Jan 2013
By Amazon Customer - Published on
The second I heard Emel Mathlouthi's voice on NPR's Weekend Edition, I immediately went and looked up every video I could find of her on YouTube. Her music doesn't need to be in English for you to hear her pain, her hopes, her love of her homeland, her bravery. Her voice is practically effortless and her interpretation of her music across genre is really captivating. Together with the strength of her words, you have magic. I hope more people come to love her.

A quote from her NPR interview:
"I was posting my songs on the social media, and I was trying to reach a larger audience, especially in Tunisia, so I can talk to them, and I can give them all my strength," Mathlouthi says. "But I felt, from time to time, like everyone and every artist -- I was desperate, and I was saying, so the dictatorship is growing and I am here, like, writing songs, and so what?"
"I realize that that was the power," Mathlouthi says. "The power is to write songs, because the songs are eternal; the melodies will be here like witnesses. But the dictatorship and the persons will go, and this is why I wrote [these] song[s]."
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Stunning! 5 Jun 2012
By Rowena - Published on
Format:Audio CD
I can only agree with everything said in the first review. Emel Mathlouthi and her musicial partners have created the perfect balance of political affirmation and poetry. Her lyrics show great maturity for her young age, her voice is compelling listening. A commendable debut.
5.0 out of 5 stars "National" music through a global filter 25 Jan 2013
By John Geffroy - Published on
Format:Audio CD|Verified Purchase
Emel Mathlouti has emerged as the principal musical voice of the Tunisian movement which became known as the "Arab Spring," but this is from a young singer with "roots" in Europe as well as in North Africa--a situation not at all unusual for Tunisians. The music is a compelling fusion of Maghrebi traditions and virtuosiity and European instrumental arranging. Emel Mathlouthi has not been a mere bystander, but a participant in the emergence of a new Tunisia. The title song, "Kelmti Horra," or "My Words are Free," would probably not be acceptable from someone not having a stake in the changes taking place: "We are free men who are not afraid,/ We are the secrets that never die," the song begins. In all, Kelmti Horra is an album that is much more than merely sincere. It is an essential voice and record of the "revolution" itself. Words and notes in Arabic as well as French and English are a great help to an outsider's appreciation here.
0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Try This 15 Aug 2013
By Steven Thomas - Published on
Format:Audio CD|Verified Purchase
I had not heard of Kelmti Horra before, but was intrigued. So, I purchased it and am really glad I did. This is not Western music, but it is good to have some captivating non-Western music. This may not be for everyone and certainly is not pop music, but there is a lot of passion and commitment here, which is important to listen to.
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