Tab Leh
Released: 2002
Location: Beirut, Lebanon
Lebanese pop isn’t a medium that takes a lot of risks. Even more than its American counterpart, it tends to the formulaic, with established stars who regularly churn out albums. Ragheb Alama is one of those stars and, well, this is mostly just what you’d expect. Bubbling beats, frothy melodies, and enough Middle Eastern promise to have fun, all topped by the voice. And, to be fair, Alama does have a good voice, but none of this stretches him – it would hardly stretch anyone. It’s so light and fluffy it could pass for cumulus. The only two tracks with any kind of meat are “Ahebik” and “La Teloy Lah,” both of which have an edge that leans more toward Egyptian street sha’bi and brings out an appealing rawness in Alama’s voice. However, the producers – and whatever faceless musicians – who made this are aiming mostly at the mainstream. If you like Lebanese pop, you’ll lap it up. If you don’t, there’s nothing here to convert you.

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