After exile from her Algerian homeland (her crime: being a political singer), Souad Massi loved worldwide success together with her early solo albums, Raoul (2001) and Deb (2003). A poetic singer-songwriter within the western mould, Massi was additional influenced by Arabic and French sounds. Her appeal has by no means vanished, however later albums have underwhelmed. She is in excellent type here, with robust songs that recall her early work and a gifted producer, Justin Adams – guitar lieutenant in Robert Plant’s band – to carry them into various life.
Opener DessinUNmoi un pays (Draw Me a Nation) is steepNorth Africanfrican influences, with a swaying string quartet, however later comes chanson, rock, bossa nova, American folks, all with a fluid backdrop of chiming, chattering guitars from Adams. Massi herself is in troubled however stoical temper. The title minimize expresses anguish for the plight of at this time’s adolescents, imploring the Seine’s goddess to assist them. The ache of damaged romance runs deep on Ciao Bello and Ch’Ta, however in L’Espoir, hope springs everlasting. Mirage is a Saharan trance about exile – “my wounds won’t ever heal” – that finds redemption on a duet with visitor Piers Faccini. Massi’s Arabic model of Trent Reznor’s Damage aches greater than the track deserves.