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Ana Hina - Natacha Atlas CD

4.3 out of 5 stars 10 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Audio CD (26 May 2008)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Format: CD
  • Label: World Village
  • ASIN: B00166BL6O
  • Other Editions: Audio CD  |  MP3 Download
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 133,447 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Track Listings

Disc: 1

  1. Ya Laure Hobouki
  2. Beny Ou Benak Eih
  3. Ana Hina
  4. La Shou El Haki
  5. Black Is the Colour
  6. Le Teetab Alayi
  7. La Vida Callada
  8. Hayati Inta Reprise (Hayatak Ana)
  9. El Asil
  10. Lammebada
  11. He Hesitated
  12. El Nowm

Product Description

Product Description

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BBC Review

Singer Natacha Atlas is now recording in London rather than Cairo, but perversely this is her most traditionally Arabic album, at least in terms of its nostalgia. Working with musical director Harvey Brough, she's chosen a classicist acoustic approach, as opposed to her usual electronic reinventions of Middle Eastern and North African sounds.

Natacha's fluttering voice is very prominent in the mix, allowing the space to savour every detail of her ornamented phrasing. Around half of the songs have a 1940s or 50s aura, sensitively interpreted by an orchestra of serpentine strings, ney flute, oud, percussion and a horn section that includes Julian Siegel. The Egyptian star Gamal Al Kordy makes a notable contribution on accordion; an apt inclusion given his involvement in many of the original recordings of these songs.

It's not all Arabic traditionalism, though. The Atlas/Brough songwriting partnership has produced four originals and a pair of arrangements, which revisit ancient folk forms, both Western and Eastern. Two of the originals possess strange echoes of other songs, with the title track evoking both Jacques Brel and James Brown's It's A Man's World.

A reading of Black Is The Colour follows Nina Simone's formula; just voice, piano and strings, sung in English. There's also an eerie version of a Frida Kahlo poem, in its original Spanish, sung as a duo with baroque guitarist and oud player Clara Sanabras, who this time opts for a pinging ukulele. And then, Brough re-arranges Hayati Inta, taken from the last Atlas album, driving all night down the highway of doom.

El Asil, from the book of Egyptian singer Abdul Halim Hafez, is followed by a lush arrangement of a tune that's at least 500 years old, with an exquisite ney/accordion conversation as its introduction. Such diversity might sound excessive in print, but the experience of gliding down these wayward alleyways produces a seamless sensation of high creativity, tastefully programmed. Ana Hina is set to be one of the year's finest albums. --Martin Longley

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Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
I was introduced to Natacha Atlas and her delightful fusion of European and Arab music (she is herself a fusion, with a Belgian father whose family came from Egypt, and a British mother) through Radio 3's Sunday programme, 'Words and Music', a programme which often introduces me to new composers and singers. I liked her sound and so bought an album to try, I was not disappointed.

Natacha Atlas is not a profound or original singer, but her sound is not superficial. She combines styles fluently, drawing from a wide range of sources, and sings in different languages so each song is different. She herself labels her music 'cha'abi moderne' (i.e. modern popular music) and her career has encompassed belly dancing and singing in a salsa band. Her flexibility and adaptability has enabled her to collaborate with musicians as far apart as Belinda Carlisle and Nigel Kennedy, as well as contributing to several film soundtracks (see Wikipedia).

I find her music appealing and different. She combines her voice with a variety of musical sounds from electronic to oud, and in Ana Hina she draws mainly from songs sung previously by Arabic singers, but also includes songs derived from a Frida Kahlo poem and a Scottish folk song. Natacha is not afraid to voice political sentiments and believes in a global vision of humanity and her songs reflect that.
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Format: Audio CD
Although a very singular work, "Ana Hina" calls to mind a number of unique (and very different) albums including Bim Sherman's re-recording of a number of his old songs in the acoustic reggae-meets- Bollywood "Miracle" album, Joanna Newsom's "Ys" in which the baroque ornateness of Van Dyke Parkes met Steve Albini's minimalism with wonderful results and, thirdly, the Greek singer Savina Yannatou's Primevera en Salonico disc "Sumiglia" which showcases songs from Greece, Corsica, Italy, Sicily, Galicia, Palestine, Albania, Bulgaria, Armenia, Moldavia and the Ukraine. Like Yannatou, Atlas celebrates the differences between various musical traditions while highlighting their commonality.

"Ana Hina" is, however, also very different from these recordings as Atlas and Ensemble re-record some of her old songs, showcase new ones and interpret traditionals and cover principally Lebanese and Egyptian famous songs. This diverse selection is embellished with varied instrumentation which is full of colour and texture while Atlas's voice is at her most emotive and, even in the saddest numbers, there is a greater warmth than on any previous Atlas recording.

Although the highlights are too many to name, from the opening Lebanese song "Ya Laure Habouki" (Oh, Laure my love to you), the standout for me is the only song in English, the traditional "Black is the Colour", variously claimed as Irish, Scottish and Appalachian, which shames a host of mawkish versions by "authentic" Celtic artists. It is a slowburner par excellence, full of dignity, restraint and pure emotion.
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Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Some home studios use old mattresses for soundproofing and perhaps at this session one fell between the singer and her microphone. That's a shame because this is otherwise fab music and performance. You can cut the bass here, but that won't make it crisp. This is the 2008 World Village release, so perhaps it was their particular issue of it that caused the muffled result.
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I heard about Natacha Atlas for the first time when she released Ana Hina, either on Radio 4s: "Womans Hour" or 3s: "Late Junction" or maybe both. Sometimes you hear an artist and you know in an instant that you must possess the music. Ana Hina was the next album that I purchased. This lady really has the voice of an angel, there is no other description which would do her justice, and just like a grand master running their own school of art, she has surrounded herself throughout her career with the finest musicians, from all over the place, in a myriad of styles of utmost beauty. On this album she has gone for a folky sound and has assembled musicians from all over the Middle East and North Africa. I seem to remember from the interview that she recorded it in either Willesden or Harlesden. Lucky us! When I say folk, I don't just mean from one place. "La Vida Collada" is a Mexican (revolutionary) song, presented in the most perfect, breathtaking harmony you will ever hear. If that doesn't blow you away, then first listen to the old scottish ballad "Black is the Colour" (of my loved one's hair), first on Paul Weller's album of covers and then on Ana Hina. Man, this lady really grabs my heart and gives it a squeeze! I am proud to say I am a fan! I've even written to the Royal Festival Hall on the Southbank and asked them to feature her and her band! (So, Yoko, if you read this, Pleeease!) Sadly, I cannot give you a rundown on either instruments or styles due to my ignorance. Suffice to say, I now own Mounqaliba, Mishmaoul, Ayeshteni, Foretold in the Language of Dreams, Something Dangerous and the greatest hits "Best of", which we actually played at this year's family Christmas party. For my money, the greatest (generally undiscovered) artist in the world at the moment.Read more ›
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