Hanni El Khatib “Savage Times”
It’s weird how you can discover an artist and the coincidences that then surround it. We saw Hanni’s album “Head In The Dirt” whilst browsing in a record store (kids asked your mum/dad what that is!) and bought it just because we liked the cover! We loved that record so was really chuffed when we discovered that he had just released “Savage Times” earlier this year. This album is actually a compilation of five EPs previously released on digital format only.
We were a bit taken aback with opener “Baby’s OK” as it’s a surprisingly raw rock n roll number. It’s a great way to open the album as it’s full of passion and zest. That straight up rock style is also visited on “Mangos and Rice” and the seventies punk of “So Dusty”. The passion is taken a step even further with “Born Brown” which ventures in to Prodigy esque territory!
Eclectic is a much over used phrase in reviews, but it is SO true of this album. On songs like “Gonna Die Alone”, ” Hold Me Back” and “Savage Times” you get a whole host of influences and styles all in the same song. The combination of a singer songwriter approach but including elements of electronica, soul, folk, rock and funk etc will inevitably lead to Beck comparisons.
Despite all that, he’s not afraid to put the occasional commercial hit on his albums. In particular, “Paralyzed” is a brilliant, funky, indie number (which actually reminds us of ‘Stars In Your Eyes’ by Just Jack). This could so easily be a huge cross over hit. The same could be said for the easy going melody of “Gun Clap Hero” or the blissful funk of “Peep Show”, a song to make you dance.
Fancy some singer-songwriter crooning? then why not check out the stripped down “Miracle” and “No Way, or the more soulful “Come Down”. If that’s too simple for you, then try the ramshackle “Mondo And His Make Up” or “Till Your Rose Comes Home”. Those are the sort of songs we’d like to imagine The Doors would’ve been creating if they were around now. A retro feel is also kept up by the Hendrix psychedelia of “Black Constellation”. The listener is given a breather with the Bolan strum of “I Am” or the almost waltz style of “This I Know”. Despite having nineteen tracks, you reach the final track “Freak Freely” far too early. That songs ends it all in a gloriously mental way, just like you would hope.
We normally like an album to be short and sharp, so the prospect of nineteen songs by any artist would normally fill us with a sense of dread. This is clearly the exception that proves the rule. Maybe that is partly due to the fact that it brings together different bodies of work. It’s certainly a genuinely intriguing and exciting release, demonstrating a huge array of styles and influences. If, like us, you’ve always loved the idea of Beck and many of his songs, but been put off by the precociousness that always seems to accompany him, then Hanni El Khatib is the perfect artist for you. Fate brought Hanni to our attention but you don’t need to rely on that bit of luck, instead just make sure you go out and buy this album now!