Alsarah and the Nubatones have a sound that flows like silt through your fingers one minute and starts a fire beneath your feet the next, a gravity and structural integrity that makes them sound like they’ve been together for decades longer than they have. On Manara, classic East African pop sounds blend with subtle electronics, creating a unique fusion that further cements their status as the future of Nubian music. Their concoction has a wide appeal, with moments that border on Afrofunk and a heavy dose of Middle Eastern oud weaving complex melodies over simpler hand percussion rhythms. Alsarah has the makings of an Afropop queen and her harmonies with backing vocalist Nahid ooze confidence and power. A continuous flow from track to track takes Manara through quick dance numbers and slower, more ethereal tracks, from earth to sky and back again, all woven together with short, static-laced interludes. There’s unquestionably a traditional East African feel to the whole album, but everything about it is fresh and cool. Alsarah and the Nubatones embrace both history and innovation on this journey, a bold, beautiful page in contemporary African music.
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