Gaida – Levantine Indulgence

Gaida – Levantine Indulgence

I know it’s lame to quote the press release from the band, but they often pinpoint the music’s feeling in the best of ways. Normally, I like to just grab the album and listen to it until I’m ready to write about it and the last spin I have with it; I take out the press release and read along while listening. Sometimes, the two feel completely out of place, kind of like when you see a kid running around and wonder how two parents could make something like that.

Now, I know that seems entirely out of line but surely you get my drift. Before I get off on too much of a tangent and my editor steps in, there is no better way to describe the music on Gaida’s Levantine Indulgence than saying that she lives in a world filled with memorable melodies. And so it’s a fitting explanation that as the press release states, “For Gaida, morning in Damascus meant melodies…” Whether it was the music blaring from her father’s stereo as he got ready in the morning or the sounds of prayer, coming from an area rich with religious tradition Gaida was always surrounded by music. And with that, you have an album that is stunningly rich in culture and rooted in a splendid way of life; with Gaida’s voice to lead us into a new day, everyone should follow suit.

What makes Levantine Indulgence work is the fact that Gaida never steps out of her comfort level but, instead, relies on the help of faithful arrangers to compose and craft her music. While this is somewhat of a collaborative effort, with different musicians stepping in to help with either lyrics or arrangements, the liner notes are crystal-clear when noted, “All compositions by Gaida.” And that’s just the thing, not only does she take to releasing all of her jewels into music that is especially pleasuring, but her voice is neatly adorned for all to behold.

Whether she is leading a chanting line of hand claps and Syrian-based musicians on opener “Dream,” or spinning webs of majestic beauty on the eight-minute tour de force “Indulgence,” Gaida is in full control. The music swirls with a worldly touch that is everything you could ask for but at the same time, though the sounds are far away, her own touch is an intimately close one. On the latter, you have a string solo that is only supported by a tapping drum before the remaining instruments re-appear to join in. And then, just as everything is starting to bend around the river, when everything begins to hide away for the closing of the night, you are greeted with Gaida’s sultry entrance on “Kaifa Uhibuka,” a remarkably beautiful ballad.

She’s come full circle with an album that speaks volumes to her own challenge of breaking through. Although she has a career where she works as a speech therapist and is now based in New York, Gaida should be making music for years to come. If it’s those melodies that recall her youth, with an uprising that saw the support of her father to sing with all of her might, then they have found a home on Levantine Indulgence.

Palmyra Recordings (no site available)