Globally revered Franco-Algerian singer-songwriter and guitarist Souad Massi, will perform in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia for the first time, on October 14th, the same day as her new album release, with further regional dates announced in 2022 and 2023, as part of her upcoming album tour.
‘Sequana‘ is Massi’s tenth album, and with her music having previously been peppered with folk and chaabi, the sound palette for this album broadens here as far as inspirations from Sahel, the Caribbean and Brazil. With Justin Adams on production, and guest collaborations including singer/songwriter Piers Faccini and the flautist Naïssam Jalal, Souad Massi continues on her path as a committed, liberated woman singing about the causes close to her heart.
On the album cover, she faces the viewer with two daisies delicately placed on her eyelids. Under the flowers, with eyes closed Massi says, “I had this feeling of fragility, vulnerability, but also of no longer having to witness the ugly vision of nature being destroyed”. Continuing, “We can reconnect with what is essential. At the same time, it is, paradoxically, a sort of denunciation and indignation with regard to what we are experiencing and what our gaze perceives.”
Sequana is a collection of ten songs, nine of which were written by Souad, with the intention of capturing the passage of time and that which humanity “must strive to preserve and pass on.”
Speaking about the inspirations behind the new album, Souad says, “My album revolves around human relationships, from the malaise of today’s adolescents and a loss of bearings, to the dangers of totalitarian regimes that push people to take terrible risks in order to flee their country”.
The album draws on a diversity of musical styles – folk, country, rock, calypso, bossa, along with sounds of the Middle East and the Algerian desert. At the suggestion of Justin Adams, this rich palette of styles was embraced by Souad, who invited Piers Faccini to join her on Mirage and, for several other tracks, Naïssam Jalal on flute, including L’Espoir, a bossa-tinged song sung in French, written with Michel Françoise.
The opening track, Dessine Moi Un Pays, sung in Arabic, was inspired by exile, as she puts it, “those people who cling to planes leaving Kabul when the Taliban returns. It was for them that I wrote this song. But also because I cannot subscribe to the discourse of fear that is developing here; it can only ever create a country where people will be singled out for having a skin color other than white.” But the song is not without hope, inviting us to think about our relationship to others and resist destructive forces.
On the title track she seizes the poetry of the Arabic language to describe the difficulties of adolescence, using the ancient myth of the goddess Sequana who watched over the fresh water springs of the Seine and was considered in Gallo-Roman times to have healing and curative powers.
All the new songs are sung in Arabic and French and were conceived during the pandemic, when the world was experiencing withdrawal and solitude. “COVID has brought to the surface our buried fears. I have always been afraid of the unknown,” says Souad. “Those things that are beyond our control, the anxiety that can emerge as night closes in, abandonment, loneliness… In order to create, to put words on these deep feelings, I have to go in search of our life force, of rhythm, and drive.”
You can find out more about her performance in Saudi Arabia here:
Source: Cosmo Politian