Album Reviews

Dhafer Youssef – Birds Requiem (Okeh)

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81MhQNka9WL._SL1500_A requiem is music played in honor of someone who has departed from this world. Dhafer Youssef’s melodies, like birds and human souls, fill the air and drift into the heavens. The tunes carry all the smiles and tears of deep memories and personal experiences.

Youssef takes the oud, a more than 5,000-year-old instrument, and tames it for musical accompaniments in this day and age. By track two, you know your ears are in the hands of a master composer and musician.

With ease, Youssef manipulates his voice while having complete control of every note he utters. He also displays just how versatile the oud and his vocals are on this album. In “Blending Souls & Shades (to Shiraz),” Youssef literally blends the traditional oud and his trained vocal talents with jazz instruments. In “39th Gülay (to Istanbul),” Youssef intertwines the sacred instrument with a touch of rock and jazz.

Throughout the album, Youssef stays true to his musical heritage. Listeners can only imagine what Youssef has seen and heard in his travels throughout life. This album takes us with him.

– Kathryn Yao

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