Review | Songlines

Zan

Top of the World

Rating: ★★★★

View album and artist details

Album and Artist Details

Artist/band:

Liraz

Label:

Glitterbeat Records

December/2020

Iranian Jewish artist Liraz is a big star in Israel, where her family have been based since the 1970s, and where performances with her own band and solo slots with the likes of the Andalusian Orchestra of Jerusalem have showcased her melismatic voice and wide-ranging style. Her 2015 Persian-language cover of ‘Love Me Like You Do’ (from the Fifty Shades of Grey soundtrack) was accompanied by a video featuring Liraz in a burka, and it’s this subversive streak – more extreme than on her 2018 debut Naz (Cute), a work that explored the pop music of Iran, pre-revolution that Liraz plunders here.

Zan means ‘Women’ in Persian, and it’s the women of contemporary Iran – from child brides to freedom fighters – to whom she's referring. Utilising contacts gleaned from the Iranian community in Los Angeles, where Liraz worked as an actress, she collaborated with anonymous musicians in Tehran: percussionists, string players, wind instrumentalists, many of them women. Their smuggled recordings vie and blend with sharp electro beats and the sort of swelling, pathos-laden backing beloved of Iranian diva Googoosh, who is clearly a role model. Liraz is at her best when investing passion, urgency and a sense of danger into tracks including opener ‘Zan Bezan’ (Women, Sing) and the fabulous ‘Injah’, though the disco-tastic ‘Joon Joon’ is a joy and ‘Shab Gerye’, a ballad, soothes and stirs. Liraz, then: a name to drop.

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