||« If I knew how to tell stories, I’d tell so many stories, Even Scheherazade would be dazzled » On « Raoui »(Storyteller), the Algerian singer Souad Massi lives up to this promise.
She is a leading light among the young Algerian artists. She is generous, sensitive, touching, talented, and she is bursting with humanity. She sings the Arabic language with a sweet and pure voice. Her songs remind one of folk rock rhythms (besides she is often compared to Joan Baez or Tracy Chapman).
Massi grew up in Algiers, part of a musical family. As a woman and a berber, Massi belongs to two oppressed groups, and in concert, she took an overtly political stance, pausing for twenty minutes at a stretch to bring people from the audience to talk to them. « Too bad if I got censored from television, »she says » At least I did it for the audience there. » She explains with accuracy and consciousness what happens in Algeria everyday and keeps on denouncing the oppressors without being boastful nor activist. “To remain silent would mean that terrorists have won and that all the intellectuals they murdered, died for nothing.”
These interventions in Algeria’s war between an authoritarian regime and islamic fundamentalists brought Souad to Paris. Here she met up with other names from the Algerian diaspora, from Idir to the Orchestre National de Barbes.
Recorded in Paris, « Raoui » is accessible, whilst maintaining it’s Algerian soul. The opening track, in praise of storytellers, sees Massi accompanying herself on an acoustic guitar. On « Bladi » (My Country), the instrumentation takes in the Oud. « Fire has burned up the Spring », and it is at once the Kabyle Spring (the uprising in Kabylia) and the Spring of young people forced to grow old before their time. As the album develops, more North African instruments are brought in from the guimbri (desert bass), metal castanets and the karkabou, as her music mixes rock and traditional music, electric and flamenco guitars.
Lyrically, « Raoui » has a clear message, but there is hope « I’ve suffered too much from every injustice, but a day will come when the sun will shine. »