Haale: No Ceiling

[10 June 2008]

By Mike Schiller

It would be very easy, in this age, for a Persian artist to want to make a statement with her music, as she watches the U.S. media and government slowly condition Americans to hate Iran and everything it stands for. On her debut album No Ceiling, however, Haale Gafori avoids any sort of political posturing or musical activism, allowing her listeners to concentrate on the sweeping, majestic nature of her music and the self-seeking, spiritual words she offers to go with that music. In general, Haale’s music is a bit like Tori Amos using her belting voice over Middle-East-influenced rock ‘n’ roll, all rolling guitars and toned percussion, and the uniform feel of the album makes it easy to listen to for the duration of its ten tracks. Apart from the general feel of her music, however, there is a slight stylistic gap between the songs she sings in English and those that she sings in Persian. Specifically, the Persian songs have more of a build to them, in that the tension of those tracks seems to construct itself in layers, an appealingly sexual dance of hold and release that gives those songs a weight lacking in Haale’s English-language offerings. Perhaps it’s the inspiration for those tracks, pulled largely from Sufi poetry; perhaps it’s simply a matter of knowing that the music needs to communicate the message to an audience that might not understand it. Regardless, Haale helpfully includes translations in the liner notes, and while they might not immediately stick out like the Persian tracks, the English songs are nothing to sneeze at, either. Regardless of all of this, what No Ceiling makes most obvious is that, as a singer-songwriter, Haale has far more maturity and skill than anyone releasing their first full-length has a right to.

Published at: http://www.popmatters.com/pm/review/haale-no-ceiling/