World Music

Reviewed by Julian Wilson

Mary Fakhoury/Universal Worlds

The Universal Worlds of Mary Fakhoury is probably referring to the stylish leaps on this five-track EP. Actually, Fakhoury does more than just hop from one style to another; it’s like she transforms into different artists completely, a chameleon who is even more unpredictable than David Bowie and Madonna. How so? Fakhoury opens the disc with a cover of the immortal “Someone to Watch Over Me”; personally, I’m burned out on this track, having heard it a million times and covered by just as many artists. However, I was captivated by Fakhoury’s vocal delivery. There is a prettiness to her longing that gives the moldy standard a fresh coat of polish. After the piano-laden French number “La Vie En Rose,” Fakhoury startles us with “El-Donia,” a Middle Eastern dance track with icy synthesizers and a spellbindingly ethereal beat. 

If the transition from American jazz to classic French pop to Arabic disco wasn’t jarring enough, Fakhoury enters the hip-hop field with “Playa in My Life.” It’s on “Playa on My Life” wherein Fakhoury seems a little uncomfortable; it rolls like an experiment, an artist seeing what she is and is not capable of doing. One can see why it was done, but Fakhoury excels when the words and arrangements match the loving craftsmanship in her singing.


Reviewed by Julian Wilson

Ravi Miriam Maron/Call from the Narrows

Ravi Miriam Maron’s Call from the Narrows is a double-CD set of Hebraic chants and spiritually powered world music. Recalling the transcendent mix of ancient vocal stylings and modern arrangements that made Dead Can Dance and the late Ofra Haza so alluring, Maron is able to take what could only be appealing to a specific crowd and make it attractive a far larger audience. The dreamlike, otherworldly textures of Maron’s singing will draw inevitable comparisons to Enya; however, Maron’s music digs deeper than that, drawing upon Biblical and other centuries-old text.

If, upon reading the description above, you think that Call from the Narrows isn’t easy to sit through, let me assure you that it isn’t. This is music that not only soothes the ears but the soul as well. On “Clear the Way,” Maron’s vocals are as ethereal as the evening stars; they will enchant you, dazzle you. “Great Mother” has punchy drums with a straighforward dance rhythm a la Haza and Peter Gabriel. “Preparation” and “I Must Follow” are songs of incredible beauty.

Reviewed by Julian Wilson

Christine Mag. Strasser/All for One

All for One is world music that is definitely, without question, both inspired by and trying to reach a higher power. Whether you believe in God – or a god at all – will not affect your enjoyment of this album. However, even the atheists among you might begin to have second thoughts because the songs here have an otherworldly glow that is not based in material experience. It helps that Christine Mag. Strasser has such a heavenly voice. No, not heavenly in the cliched Christian music sense of the word, but aiming for spiritual transcendence, which she does on nearly every track.

Strasser doesn’t have much instrumental accompaniment other than acoustic guitars, flute, and percussion. Her vocals are the focus here, especially on “Jesus Song” and “Gayatri,” wherein Strasser’s singing seems to be sent from the stars; imagine Enya with a deeper, more somber voice. “Praise the Lord” is illuminated by swirling riffs and peaceful, breathtakingly beautiful harmonizing while “Chandra Shekaraya” and “Ave Maria” unreel with gorgeous cinematic imagery. This is a work of art as well as a labor of love.