Raised in an Algerian refugee camp, the Sahrawi singer Aziza Brahim lives today in Spain. Her parents were born in the Western Sahara, and the temptation will be to lump her in with the desert blues-rock bands that sprang from the same region. The same culture and the same conflict have affected them all. “Damn the seeds of graves / That beat against the stones of your homeland,” she sings in Spanish. Maldita la simiente de sepulcros / Papita entre las piedras de tu patria. The lost, the lonely, and the leaving, are her themes, her voice making a tenacious path over the percussives. The Andalucian musical link between Europe and Africa is fruitfully mournful in her guitar. Soutak is an album of rooted sad steadiness, not rock-guitar charisma – there’s the difference. “Don’t leave me in the hands of the enemy, my son,” she says, but this is part of a ritualistic dialogue, not an expression of fear.
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