Creating your own genre of music is not for the faint hearted and this is exactly what this album uncompromisingly sets out to do. Despite strong influences from the Mediterranean and the Middle East, it admirably keeps its feet firmly on the ground of Manchester and British Indie. Following in the footsteps of British bands Asian Dub Foundation and Transglobal Underground, the album layers exotic sounds like darbuka, saz and bouzouki over a strong, driving back beat. From electric guitar to the haunting Turkish çümbüş,each song holds small surprises from the unusual array of instruments arranged with loving attention to detail.
A mixture of Darwish’s songs in English and modern rearrangements of Turkish and Kurdish songs, this album successfully fuses lyrics in English, Turkish and two Kurdish languages. Anatolian folk songs, some thought to be over 300 years old, sit comfortably next to some of the most biting English lyrics to have been written in recent times. The whole album has a meaningful weight to it but never becomes trite or pompous like so many of its world music counterparts.
The country and eastern sound is both uplifting and adventurous, never more exemplified than in the stomping cover of Dolly Parton’s classic song “Jolene\". Every listen reveals a new detail from the many intricate layers that go together to set this album in a world of is own. With anthemic and poetical comments on immigration and the Iraq war it is firmly set in the 21st century but the breathtakingly original mixture of languages and sounds from east and west takes you to a world where the only borders really are in your mind.
The CD comes with translations of all songs in English and Turkish and an introduction which gives a fascinating insight into the background of the album and the band. Paula Darwish and The Country and Eastern Band are based in Manchester UK but between them have roots in 8 different countries - England, Jordan, Turkey, Spain, Germany, Greece, Iraq and Norway - making this a truly global album.