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Shouka by Mariem Hassan
Released: Jan 2009
Label: Nubenegra
Mariem Hassan's Saharoui music is as raw as it gets, as raw as Southern blues before it went to Chicago. The rolling guitars underneath this album will be familiar to Tinariwen fans, but Hassan's fierce voice stands in stark contrast to Ibrahim Ag Alhabib's melancholic drone. This woman will fight, lament, ululate -- and sometimes take it easy, as on "Alu Ummi." Hassan's got a lot to sing about -- her people in particular, who've been living in exile in Algeria since Morocco annexed their lands in the '70s. Life in the tent cities isn't easy, but Hassan's proud music might make it bearable.
Sarah Bardeen

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