Album Review: Amir – Tamino

“Is Tamino the heir to Jeff Buckley?” touted The Independent earlier this week. Although he was barely born when Buckley passed on, 21-year-old Tamino does well to dispel any doubts about this insinuation.

Credence is given in the opening track of Amir, “Habibi” (An Arabic word for sweetheart) where Tamino treats the listener to an intimate ballad. Despite being released previously on EP format, “Habibi” gives Amir a sense of urgency, where Tamino strips naked and reveals there will be no compromises on this record. If that isn’t enough to capture hearts, Tamino’s angelic falsetto is there with cupid’s arrow.

Given its alternative nature, his music may not be something that typically would be labelled as pop, but song “Tummy” suggests otherwise. In a similar vein as Hozier’s “Someone New”, or James Bay’s “Let it Go”, this song wouldn’t feel out of place on mainstream radio stations.

Tamino is not short of fans, either – Colin Greenwood (bassist of Radiohead) appears on the track “Indigo Night”. Collaborators don’t stop there: accompanying the artist on the album is an orchestra, Nagham Zikrayat (Arabic for musical nostalgia – a collective of Arabic musicians – many of whom were refugees from Iraq and Syria. They got in touch with Tamino when they asked him if he would like to sing the songs of Muharram Fouad (A famous Egyptian singer and actor, and Tamino’s grandfather). Speaking to bandsintown on the importance of including Nagham Zikrayat on the LP, Tamino commented:

First and foremost, because they are incredible musicians and I was touched from the first second I heard them play. Secondly, because I wanted to recreate the sound of the Arabic orchestra’s (firqa’s) from the golden age (like the ones that played with my grandfather). After I wrote the beginning of the string arrangements, I knew that I would need that particular sound and that a regular, western, classical orchestra wouldn’t capture the right spirit.

Closing the album is “Persephone” where Tamino uses the Greek myth of Hades, God of the Underworld, abducting Persephone as a metaphor for the “the conflict between blinding romance and dissipating nihilism”.

Listen to Persephone here:

Amir is out now.

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