April Blossoms (Kirkelig Kulturverksted, 2009)
Palestinian poet, singer and songwriter Rim Banna is back with a new CD entitled April Blossoms. Admired for her plumy vocals on solo works and beloved for her collections of songs for children, Ms. Banna is revisiting some her previously released children’s songs and adding a few new ones on April Blossoms, set to be distributed for free to the children in Gaza and the refugee camps of the West Bank.
Delightful and charming, April Blossoms envelopes the young listener in a sweet, safe place where grandmothers offer delicious dinners, where kittens play, where orchards are ripe with figs and olives and where the worst thing is a braying, reluctant donkey. A welcome respite from their daily lives, April Blossoms is a healing tool for traumatized children, helped along by the good folks at Kirkelig Kulturverksted, the Norwegian Church Aid and other aid organizations.
With Norwegian, Turkish and American musicians, as well as a children’s choir from Nazareth, April Blossoms is brimming over with all the delights our young friends of all nationalities are sure to enjoy. Cleverness abounds with songs about gentler side of life like the peaceful life of a shepherd on “The Shepherd,” or the quaint birds who visit the “Silver Fountain,” or the song about what’s for dinner on “New Moon,” with the lyrics taken from a Palestinian folk verse.
“The Kitten Didi,” “Sleep Dolly, Sleep,” “The Clock” and “Today Is My Birthday,” as in all the songs on April Blossoms, are wrapped in expertly crafted music and centered on Ms. Banna’s lovely vocals. Precious tracks like “I’ll Sing Lullabies to You,” “Baylassan” and “Mum, You Are the Dearest” shimmer against raucous tracks like “Our Donkey” and “A Sand House,” keeping the CD interesting to attract and entertain the most rowdy of children.
Producer extraordinaire Erik Hillestad, along with guitarist Eivind Aarseth ,electric guitarist Leonid Alexeienko, drummer Rune Arnesen, bansuri flutist and clarinetist Steve Gorn, oud player Tarkan Ongen, bassist Gjermund Silseth, duduk player Ertan Tekin and keyboardist David Wallumrød, take Ms. Banna’s and Mr. Alexeienko’s music and turn it into a freshly modern delight, plying the listener with plenty of playful twists and giddy turns. Ms. Banna, writing or adapting the lyrics on April Blossoms, indeed has a special gift for finding the vocal joy or soothing caress every child, young or old, deserves.
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