By happenstance, I discovered that Salma El Mosfi, the cute voice behind the work of Ziad Rahbani’s Monodose, had released a follow-up record titled, Salmanova. Much like any musical project that isn’t furnished by Rotana, it is no surprise that this one slipped under the Arabic music radar. The 12 airy tracks reaffirm Salma as a chanteuse who is full of charm and light-heartedness, qualities essential to the bossa nova sound.
The genius that existed in Monodose was the Lebanese cultural element the record encapsulated. Packaged also à la bossa nova, the songs told a Lebanese Francophone story, reinterpreting a Western musical genre to outfit an Arabic point of view.
Making a slight shift, Salmanova presents light, bossa nova Arabic tunes sans the use of the kanun and explicit Lebanese slang. Rather, the record’s structure is classic in its instrumentation and vocal delivery. “Inad ou Ihssass” and “El Ghina Ahla Chee” are reminiscent of the artistic beach-culture that recalls Rio in the 1950s. A Billie Holiday cover (“At The End of a Love Affair”) is thrown in the mix along with “J’ai Deux Amours,” endearingly, Paris and Beirut being the two loves of Salma. This isn’t a revolution to the Lebanese music repertoire, however, Salmanova is a refreshing change from the disposable pop numbers that liter the Arabic charts today.