Music Reviews

Hassan Hakmoun

The Gift


Moroccan Hassan Hakmoun is in his third decade of dazzling Western audiences, and is now definitely on par with the elite corps of world musicians operating today. Like a Susana Baca or an Omar Sosa, Hakmoun performs a unique hybrid that transcends borders faster than a satellite transmission. Similar to Ray Lema’s last project, Hassan takes his Gnawa trance and places the Afro-Arab hybrid onto the transnational stage. The end result is a thoroughly enjoyable experience, a salve to the wounded spirit. There’s the steady-thumping, looped funk of “Mimouna.” Paula Cole joins him for the title track, a bittersweet ballad. “Lala Aisha” and “El Hedia” are utterly mesmerizing. In fact, there is not a single moment on this disc that will fail to move you. Hakmoun’s soulful, gravelly voice is as beautiful as his music, and we all need more beauty in this world. Don’t we?

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