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naRa - Serenity

naRa, Serenity

Review by Jack Foley

IndieLondon Rating: 1 out of 5

naRa (meaning ‘a fire’ in her native Arabic tongue) releases her debut album, Serenity and promises listeners a trail of originality through house infused, club friendly Middle eastern pop. There’s certainly novelty value to it, if not lasting quality.

The album kicks up some good, foot-stomping beats and an interesting fusion of influences, but it’s let down by some mundane vocals and a few too many tracks that lack any killer hooks (be they melodic or by way of a good chorus).

Album opener I Am, for instance, is foot-tappy enough to grab your attention, but is ill-served by some bland vocals and a chorus that never really leaves a lasting impression. It underwhelms.

Soul Food, meanwhile, kicks off with naRa urging people to “let the music take control”, but is delivered in more of a chanting, gym class workshop style than anything like a decent dance song. The techno backdrop feels at odds with the vocals, too.

Similar problems persist throughout the remainder of the album.

Title track Serenity attempts to come over all soulful, but pales by comparison to the best soul divas, while her rapping interludes just grate.

Former single, Rhythm, meanwhile, is a tepid dancefloor filler that again drops a terrible set of vocals and some awful lyrics (“let your hips do all of the talking… let your feet do all of the walking”).

Of the few highlights, Oriental Funk at least boasts some decent supporting instrumentation that draws heavily from her Middle East heritage. But even then, the vocals sound half-hearted.

Based between Geneva, Switzerland and Beirut, naRa’s unique approach to music has been organically created by her rich experience working with people from all walks of life. She insists that the songs of Serenity will find a home on the dancefloors of Dubai, Paris and London given its unique blend of Arabic pop, rai, western rock and dance as well as traditional Arabic moods and textures.

Sadly, she is mistaken.

Track listing:

  1. I Am
  2. Soul Food
  3. Serenity
  4. Love At First Sight
  5. Rhythm
  6. Tonight
  7. Oriental Funk
  8. Virtual Love
  9. Stay
  10. Patience