Artist: Brahim, Aziza
Product Type: VINYL LP
LP version. 180 gram vinyl; includes download code. On the front cover of Saharawi singer-songwriter and activist Aziza Brahim's new album, Sahari, a young girl poses in ballet shoes and a glistening white tutu. It's a common childhood scene, but it's tipped upside down. She's an exile, living nowhere near her homeland, and behind her stand the tents and buildings of a refugee camp. There's a desert on the ground and a burning sky above. Yet even in this bleakness, she has optimism. She believes in a better future. The music Aziza Brahim makes reflects both the sorrow and the hope of these people. She grew up in one of those camps in the Algerian desert, along with thousands of other Saharawi who were removed from their homes in the Western Sahara. Her grandmother was a famous Saharawi poet, her mother well-known as a vocalist, and they passed their strength and fearlessness to her. Now, as one of North African most lauded singers, Brahim uses her position to make the plight of her people known - and of the refugees across the world who have no choice but to exist in the camps. Sahari is for them as much as it's for her own family. The political remains intensely personal for Brahim. She lives in exile, in Spain, and the music for Sahari - her third album for Glitterbeat - was written there. And while her songs remain grounded in her homeland, her gaze is increasingly global. To achieve that, Brahim worked with the acclaimed Spanish artist Amparo Sánchez of the band Amparanoia on the album's pre-production, and the collaboration has made a transformative impact on the music. The focus is broader, with programming and keyboards a vital part of the new sound. The different approach extends to the very root of Brahim's music, the tabal drum that's been the heart of Saharawi music for centuries. The process was made smoother by having a sympathetic band who've been with her for years. All the members played a part in framing the new material. When Brahim began as a composer, her work reflected her own reality, growing up in the far, rocky desert known as the hamada. These days she's become a voice for refugees across the globe, and what she sees every day on the news has inevitably affected her writing. Perhaps Aziza's empowered, healing music, can help refuel our sense of justice and compassion.