From dance, pop and R’n’B to the uncompromising sounds of Shamstep, these three albums from the region have something for everybody. Producer Jai Nova delivers a short-yet-sweet EDM fairytale, Anthony Touma continues to hone in on his contemporary appeal and 47Soul get foot-tappingly political on their globally acclaimed album.
Jai Nova – Homecoming
At a mere three tracks long, Jai Nova’s EP Homecoming is a brief but blissful introduction to what the young UAE-based producer is capable of, hooking us in under 10 minutes. The unpretentious dance-pop album kicks off with Nova’s radio-ready single Heart is a Liar, featuring New York-based Hilaire on vocals, before slipping straight into another earworm, Ride featuring the smoky-voiced Babet. But, perhaps leaving the best for the last, Nova allows himself to take centre-stage on the airy, transportive beats of album-closer Elysium, a lyric-free musical production that manage to be boisterous without ever feeling cloying or overdone. An impressive showing from Nova, and a likely hit with fans of Clean Bandit and Rudimental.
Anthony Touma – Ups and Downs
Anthony Touma first showed up on our radar with his finger-snapping single Walk Away last year. Thankfully, he continues to build on his contemporary pop-R’n’B stylings with this impressively slick 8-track album. For lovers of Shawn Mendes, Justin Bieber and Charlie Puth, Touma delivers a young yet skilful effort with Ups and Downs, from the funk-infused album opener Over You, to the EDM-tinged TBT, The Weeknd-esque Sirens, and the wistful piano ballad Best Friend, which borrows a strikingly familiar page from Bieber’s Purpose. Still, Touma seems like a songwriter who’s willing and ready to draw outside the lines, both playful and fresh in his approach, whilst understanding fully what pop enthusiasts are clamouring for today.
47Soul – Balfron Promise
If you haven’t experienced Shamstep yet, you’re missing out on unadulterated musical greatness. The Middle Eastern genre combines traditional Dabke sounds with contemporary electronic beats — both addictive in their own right — and forms the entire foundation of 47Soul’s sound. Here, on the 8-track record Balfron Promise released earlier this year, the Jordanian-Palestinian foursome don’t let up for a second. Packed full of bilingual protest anthems, the unruly album manages to be equal parts joyful, danceable and militant. And even though it’s rooted in the buoyant sounds of the Levant, it has global appeal, too, named The Guardian’s World Music Album of the Month. A must-listen, no matter where you are in the world.