Well, Strong is a first for me: songs performed in French, Tamazight and English, an infectious concoction of percussively driven harmonies and Mezel’s vocal exuberancy, an addictive blend of the lyrically magical and sweeping range of the music.
Take a track like Precious Souls, a gorgeous ballad with the structure of a poem, which could as easily be sung a cappella; the strong writing continues with IIni, sung in Tamazight, which is as easy on the ear as the theme – water – is on the tongue.
Mezel is in very good hands: producer John Reynolds (Bjork and Sinead O’Connor) doesn’t over egg the pudding, and there is nothing in the least bombastic when guitarist and bassist Graham Kearns, Nora Abdoun Boyer on Berber percussions and Reynolds himself on keyboards set sail with a groove, Silent Waters and Izha Wuliw.
Tamazight is one of the stronger dialects of the Berber language, where the sound, particularly in singing, is more fricative than strung out like the vowels i and u.
Fortunately, and I don’t know why, there is something about the root of English and Tamazight which facilitates a seamless transition from one to another, or perhaps the solution is just Mezel’s gift as vocalist.
Light vowel or fricative consonant, it is water pouring once Mezel applies an accentuated tone.
Though unfamiliar with the Berber culture, I have to imagine that its enchanting vibes permeate Eau Fil De L’Eau, sung, or almost whispered, in French, with a will o the wisp guitar accentuating this collection’s key theme: spirituality.
Precious Souls, also released as a single, is presented as an arresting paean to benevolent spirits, and indeed the eleven songs that comprise Strong are a stunning homage to the best form of pantheism: respect for nature and an adherence to its laws