Words by Robin Denselow
A laidback kind of anger from the voice of the Saharawi
Since the death of the great Mariem Hassan, Aziza Brahim has become the most important voice for the Saharawi people, many of them still living in refugee camps in Algeria, exiled from the homeland that they have called ‘Occupied Western Sahara’ since it was invaded by Morocco in 1975. Aziza was born and raised in the bleak desert refugee camps, but left to study in Cuba before eventually moving to Barcelona. Her last album, Soutak, provided musical reminders of her travels, and became massively successful in Europe. It’s no surprise, then, that she is backed here by many of the same musicians, and the producer is once again Chris Eckman, known for his work with Bassekou Kouyaté and Tamikrest.
Aziza has a relaxed, cool voice and there’s an easy-going feel to many of the songs, despite the angry political lyrics. She’s at her best on the upbeat ‘Calles de Dajla’ and the bluesy lament ‘Mani’, on which she is joined by Malian blues guitarist Samba Touré. The final track, ‘Los Muros’, is a reflection on the vast wall built by the Moroccans to surround the territory. A little more of Hassan’s passion and grit would have been welcome, but it’s a classy, commercial set.