Faudel: Un Autre Soleil (Another Sun) (2003)
The 20-something Parisian vocalist known simply as Faudel rose to prominence at a frighteningly young age, but he has aged well. His local group Les Etoiles du Rai (The Rai Stars, formed at age 12) earned him enough of a reputation to attract promotion and soon attention from the French media. The Little Prince of Rai signed with Mercury at age 18, and three records later he keeps expanding his repertoire. Another Sun is an optimistic, accessible record that reflects the state of the art in Algerian pop while retaining roots in the rai tradition.
Wrasse's Anglophone release of this record translates everything from the title ( Un Autre Soleil ) to the lyrics and the production info, with the exception of three tracks. That's just fine, I suppose, because if you speak French you'll get the juice directly from the source. The rest of us can pay attention to the liner notes. The lyrics are reminiscent of bossa nova, in their own particular way. "I Want To Live" goes completely giddy:
I want to live to run on the beach
I want to live to kiss my dreams
To embrace my days
To know love
And the hours that intoxicate
Joy predominates here both in the music and the lyrics. Credit songwriter Patrick Dupont for a helping hand on the strongest tracks.
The opener fuels a bouncing pulse with guitar and accordion vamps, virtually begging you to get up and dance. This is part Arabic groove, part Old World celebration... pure pop. Whatever production, mixing, and programming went into the tune, it works fabulously. The guys behind the controls add a light sheen without heavy-handedness.
Down the road Faudel pursues amped-up minor melodies, lightly accented ballads, belly dancing madness, and flamenco-flavored guitar rhythms and harmonies. By the time "Little One" drifts in at the end of the record, you've ridden a ridiculously fun romp. This tune, dedicated to the singer's young son, rides on minimal synthesized piano/melodica lines and conveys the direct emotion that has made Faudel a star in both North Africa and France. It ought to be the world at this point. He's good.
(Islamic fundamentalists are encouraged to avoid this record. Go pray for Faudel instead.)
Track Listing: 1. I want to Live (Dirat/Michau/Palud ) - 3:11 2. Another Sun (Lafa/Welgryn ) - 3:00 3. I Am Searching (Benitah/Chab ) - 3:56 4. Nothing But My Heart (Chabasse/DuPont/Moraillon ) - 3:43 5. Manuja (Pablos ) - 4:09 6. Woulli (Belloua/Chabasse/DuPont/Hamadi ) - 3:40 7. Maina (Askoy/Mine ) - 3:35 8. Suffering to Tell Him (Cherfi/Melino ) - 3:20 9. Orphelin (Belloua/DuPont/Guerrera/Hamadi ) - 4:22 10. Run (Dirat/Liorit/Michau/Michau/Palud ) - 2:58 11. Between Her and Me (DuPont/Marcielles/Moraillon ) - 3:36 12. Little One (DuPont/Moraillon ) - 3:21
Personnel: Laurent Gatignol, Tim Young, Iza Mellino, Christian Lachenal, Christophe Dupouy, Nabil Khalidi, Ochowiak, Stefane Mellino, Sandrine Le Bars, Jean-Paul Gonnod, Patrick Dupont, Mustapha Ettamri, Floriant Lagatta, Aymeric Letoquart, Gabriel Levasseur, Joshua Lewit, Madje Malker, Jean Pierre Marciellesi, Hakim Belloua, Therry Bretonnet, Willy Camara, Samira Cherraj, Benjamin Constant, Vincent Creusit, Alexandra Cubizolles, Cokie Demaia, Jeremy Dirat, Guillaume Farley, Matthias Froidefond, Suzy Gillett.