UNI Album review
"Nani made a fresh album of songs that sound familiar, but she composed them herself"
The Ladino language became the language of the Jewish diaspora throughout the Mediterranean after the expulsion of the Jews from the territory of present-day Spain in 1492. For Nani (Noam Vazana), an Israeli singer living in the Netherlands, songs in this language are a return to her roots. When she was little, her grandmother sang them to her at home, she herself then forgot these folk melodies of the Sephardic Jews and returned to them after hearing them in Morocco. In 2017, she recorded an album of well-known Sephardic songs called Andalusian Brew, but at the same time she was slowly preparing her big breakthrough project.
The vinyl edition was released in January 2023 under the name Ke Haber and contains – with three exceptions – the singer’s original, i.e. completely new, songs in the ancient Ladino language. After all, the tension between the old and the new flows throughout the album. In addition to the percussion, “conservatively” played guitar, piano or cello, the songs easily accommodate surprise trombone tracks, which, by the way, is brilliantly played – by the singer herself. An excellent example the heartbreaking song Landarico where she composed accompaniment of the song on 4 layers of trombone choral.
Some of the song themes are also surprising. In addition to themes that have been addressed in songs for centuries – a pre-wedding dialogue between a mother and a daughter or a ritual to protect a newborn child – Nani wrote lyrics from that relate to our contemporary world and culture. And yet these are the same problems that people must have had even in the Middle Ages. That is also why the singer sets these topics – homoerotic love or even a transgender metamorphosis – in archaic backdrops. Of course, this also related to her goal to write a “modern album of old songs”.
Two selected cover versions and one mash-up of Turkish and Ladino folk songs fit into a very tight whole. The finale Gracias a la Vida, composed in 1966 by the Chilean singer-songwriter Violeta Parra, sums up the entire album with dignity. However, even her unusual choice to cover Sting’s Shape of My Heart, fits right in, especially when mashed-up with her self-written thematically similar song Mi Korazon.
Overall, Nani managed to write, assemble and record a fresh album of songs that sound familiar, even though she composed most of them herself.
Read full review in Czech, written by Milan Tesar