luminous dash review
"such a rare album that takes you on a journey & afterwards gives you the impression that you've lived 10 different lives in as many countries"
What happens to a language when no one speaks it anymore? Will all the stories that were ever told in it be lost? And all the poetry, all the wisdom, all the music? To prevent Ladino, the language in which her grandmother sang, from disappearing completely, Nani Noam Vazana sets to work making new songs in that ancient language, with her own lyrics and melodies.
Ladino is the language of the Jews that were expelled from Spain in the 15th century and migrated to Europe, Turkey and North Africa. Today only a handful of native speakers remain, who are also quickly getting older. Nani’s attempt to save the Ladino language from extinction with her album Ke Haber has a fascinating result.
Those who speak a little Spanish can decipher some of her lyrics. Una Segunda Piel, for example, clearly means ‘A Second Skin’, and in Fada De Mi Korazon you immediately recognize the word for heart. However, the full meaning of the songs often remains a mystery. Ladino therefore has its own vocabulary, with influences from Hebrew, Arabic, Turkish and a number of other languages. Don’t let that stop you, just let yourself be carried away by Nani’s golden voice and her timeless melodies, where she also plays the trombone.
Just listen how she weaves a song into the addictive Fada De Mi Korazon that starts to dance, first gently, then in ever-growing movements, with important roles for guitar and piano. And how Una Segunda Piel breaks open like the heavens on a sunny day, and after the intro Nani shows what her voice can handle and what emotions she can convey openheartedly.
The singer also gets to work with Shape Of My Heart by Sting: she seamlessly merges the very jazzy song with her own composition in Ladino Mi Korazon and so she forges an extraordinarily beautiful song in which love and melancholy go hand in hand. In Landarico she delves into history and reworks a medieval love ballad, with stately horns – recording 4 trombone tracks by herself.
"The song Una Segunda Piel breaks open like the heavens on a sunny day"
Ke Haber is such a rare album that takes you on a journey and afterwards gives you the impression that you have lived ten different lives in as many countries. This proves that old and new, tradition and modernity are not exclusive experiences, they complement each other in a way that can’t be ignored.
Ke Haber can be ordered or downloaded from Nani’s website. You can also listen to some of its singles on Spotify. Anyone who wants to see the singer perform live has to follow her to the Netherlands, Germany, Slovakia, the United States, Canada, Australia or Portugal. Tour dates here.