Christine Atallah: Christine Atallah (vocals); Danny McLaughlin (guitar); Rabih Yazbek (violin); Francois LaLonde (acoustic bass); Mathieu Tessier (drums); Firas Haddad (percussion); Diana Dorval (background vocals).
Even if you don't speak any of the five languages that the sensuous-voiced Christine Atallah sings on this magical, multi-ethnic kaleidoscope of a collection, you'll find yourself seduced as Atallah and her band sizzle, groove, and sway with a mix of unique Arabic, Latin, and jazz flavors. The classically trained Quebec-based singer has an incredible pedigree, which includes singing in the Academy Award-nominated film Jesus de Montreal, being discovered during a tour of Verdi's Aida, and touring the world as a featured soloist. Those world travels inform the exciting jazz scales, pop sensibilities, and global grooves on this multifaceted collection, which begins with the swaying flamenco/Arabic fusion on "Taa, Ya Habibee" (the title has something to do with harem nights, but who really knows?) and continues with the loping Egyptian charms of "Idman" and the dreamy violin and conga-spiced Latin gem "Me Voy." Beyond Atallah's always appealing lead vocals, there's a general emphasis on polyrhythmic textures provided by Arabic percussion and instruments like the oud. One of the more dramatic and hypnotic tracks is "Salam," which mixes snappy acoustic guitar lines, an inspirational English lead vocal, and the explosive chantings of the Montreal Mass Gospel Choir. In the midst of the very danceable party, she provides a happily dreamy oasis in the tender sunswept "M'Envoler." These only scratch the surface of the numerous exotic treasures on this exciting CD from the label that introduced the brilliant nuevo flamenco guitarist Armik to the world. ~ Jonathan Widran