I first heard the haunting voice of Lebanese singer Yasmine Hamdan on a track called “Lili s’en fout,” from a CD released by Toufic Farroukh. Her captivating vocals added a whole new dimension to the song. Although she has been performing for many years, “Ya Nass” is her first solo album.
Yasmine spent a peripatetic childhood moving with her parents around the Middle East, then to Greece and France. After receiving a degree in psychology, she began composing and singing, initially in English, but this new album is all in Arabic. The songs are mostly love songs, and there is one, “La Mouch,” which was originally sung by Mohammed Abdel Wahab, who sang it to another man, out of respect for women. The opener, “Deny” begins quietly but builds in intensity, and is absolutely hypnotic. “Samar” is about a woman who has spent the night with her lover, a pretty lively time. “Beirut,” Yasmine’s birthplace, is described as a “flower out of season.” “Ya Nass,” the final song and title track, means “Oh People,” and wraps up this beautiful album. I didn’t understand a single word, but apparently Arabic speakers will understand the humor with which she imbues her songs by singing in different Middle Eastern dialects. “Ya Nass” is an album which carries you off to a tranquil and meditative place.