Tuesday, 5 February 2008

"This Is Who I Am" revisited - part 1

I previously did a review of Salem's debut album over at EuropeCrazy back in July 2007, but now that I've got this site, and now that a whole new audience have discovered him since the Grammisgalan and put the album back into the Swedish Top 10, I thought it would be a good time to revisit this album and do a more in-depth review, track by track.

Tonight I'll start off with the first three tracks.

1. "Begin" (0.56)
We know that Salem Al Fakir is fond of structure, beginnings and endings. Therefore the album begins with a short, spacey, synthesized overture which provides no clue as to the album's direction. That's because there isn't one. Prepare for the most varied, crazy, brave and ambitious collection of songs and tunes on an album which defies convention.

2. "This Is Who I Am" (3.28)
Arguably the real beginning of the album, lyrically this is Salem's mission statement. Take him or leave him, this is who he is and he cannot do anything about it. And we wouldn't want him to. Salem plays every musical instrument on this album (apart from brass instruments, played by his brother Sami). Musically, this is a very accomplished track, with brass and strings keyboards and is an early indication of the 'retro' nature of his music, which I find appealing anyway.

3. "Tell Me" (2.52)
Another song brings another style - this time a strong soul music influence. At the time of this album's release, the Swedish media often labelled Salem as "Sweden's Stevie Wonder" which was a rather lazy comparison but still kind of understandable in a way. Anyway, this is just such a feelgood track despite the 'why did the sun stop shining/why did the fire stop burning' lyrics. I particularly like the line "too bad you stole the sun and froze it". Layered vocal harmonies and brilliant piano playing. This is one of my favourite tracks on this album.

Coming soon: tracks 4 to 6.

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