CAIRO: There is a thin line between having a trademark style and being repetitive and monotonous. In her new album Bastanak (Waiting for You), Elissa walks this thin line, sometimes confidently and eloquently but at other times she staggers.
The singer has a strong voice that beautifully fits mellow numbers. Apparently, she is well aware of the fact, since most of the songs featured on the album fall into the mellow category, whether uplifting or sad. The minimum percussion and the echo of the guitar, and occasionally the piano, have become all too-familiar sounds in her songs.
This, however, doesn’t mean that she is not presenting anything new. For starters, the album is one of many steps she has been taking away from the sultry road that first propelled her to fame. Instead, she has been working on accentuating her talent and strengthening the sincerity and passion of her performance. Just by listening to the album or looking over its cover, you will instantly realize that effort was exerted in its making.
The 12-track album features a number of Egyptian and Lebanese songwriters, composers and musicians that have helped add variation to this limited category of music – not an easy task. Songwriter Nader Abdallah contributed the most with five songs to his name. Musician Michel Fadel’s name also appears quite often in the credits, whether for music arrangement or playing musical instruments.
The album also features two tracks written and composed by the acclaimed Lebanese singer Marwan Khoury, who is also famous for the songs he writes and composes for other singers, most notably Carol Samah’s Ettala’ Fiya (Look at Me). This time, although his offerings carry his trademark and fit Elissa’s soft voice, they are not as captivating as his previous work.
The lyrics of Kermalak (For You), however, have an edge. The song, masterminded by Khoury and passionately performed by Elissa, features a slight difference from the love theme that dominates the album. Don’t get it wrong; it is a love song, but with expressions relatively novel to the tracks common in today’s mainstream. Instead of whining about pain and break ups, Elissa describes the negative effect of a relationship on her character.
“Because of you I started hiding the love I have in my heart/Pretending that I’m indifferent, not caring, not concerned/Acting like a friend to you constantly asking how you are doing/Feeling secure that you are near and not troubling you with my love/Your love had me running after you and made me lose myself, reads the translation of the song featured on the album sleeve.
Throughout the album, Elissa maintains the overused love theme, with feelings of longing dominating. As the title track suggests, she is waiting. Most of the songs that you won’t be able to stop yourself from repeating throughout the day also carry this longing tone, most notably the uplifting chorus of Taa (Come) sang in the Lebanese dialect and Law Taarafou (If You Know Him) sang in the Egyptian dialect
By singing in the Lebanese and Egyptian dialects, Elissa has secured herself a wide audience; the album sales are reported to be the highest in the Egyptian market. Most of the tracks featured on the album will probably feature prominently in this summer’s weddings.