(Make Me A) TRISTE© Mixtape Episode 98: Nadine Khouri

Nadine Khouri (© Steve Gullick)

Nadine Khouri is a British-Lebanese independent musician & songwriter currently based in Marseille. Her first album, The Salted Air, was produced by John Parish (PJ Harvey, Aldous Harding, Dry Cleaning) in his hometown Bristol. A haunting collection of poetic meditations, with influences from shoegaze, film soundtracks & spoken-word, the album was included in Rough Trade’s Albums of the Year. Her new album Another Life was released on November 18th on Talitres. Recorded in London and Bristol again with John Parish and frequently touching upon themes of exile and disappearance, the album is set to a shifting sonic tapestry, taking in blues, fragile drum machine rhythms and sun-bleached 1970s Laurel Canyon rock.  Another Life’ is available now via BandcampRough Trade and Digitally.

What She Says:2020 was a period of upheaval around the world; in the case of my country of origin, those events were cataclysmic. The demonstrations in Beirut following the devastating port explosion on August 4th were definitely on my mind when writing the song. On the whole, I wanted this record to sound more direct than the previous one; though there is a lot on there about being in a liminal place, between past and present, presence and absence.”

I wrote Keep On Pushing These Walls in tribute to the late, great Lhasa de Sela. I’d seen Leslie Feist, Melissa Laveaux and others pay tribute to her life and work at the Barbican in London and came home and wrote this song. More generally, it’s about songs written by another that open us up to ourselves, to each other and to the world. Lhasa was a one-of-a-kind artist, whose music has accompanied me all throughout my life. People often talk about her as an extraordinary singer or performer, but she was equally a brilliant songwriter and storyteller. I often wonder what Lhasa would make of the world today. Her humility, openness and quest for authenticity always inspire me. Her music was expansive, beyond language and genre – she sang from and for the soul.

Her Mixtape:

Mark Hollis – The Colour of Spring 

As with Talk Talk’s final albums, I really love how much Mark Hollis allows his songs to breathe.  The song doesn’t start until about 20 seconds in, which is quite bold for a first track on an album.  I like music that commands your attention this way.  I always found this track very comforting and beautiful.  It starts off lovely and simple but veers into unexpected places musically.

Stina Nordenstam – The Morning Belongs to the Night

I was a huge fan when I discovered Stina Nordenstam’s music as a teenager. There is so much to choose from, but this is from one of the later records she released. I’ve always loved her musical universe, her unconventional voice and experimentations with sound; she’s not easily pigeon-holed into one “genre.” I hope she will share another record with the world someday, though she’s certainly made enough great ones for the world!

Matt Elliott – Farewell to All We Know

2020 honestly felt like an apocalyptic year to me, like the world was ending…  I’ve been a fan of Matt Elliott’s music for a long time, but I think this album as a whole is astonishing and speaks to the zeitgeist, particularly this song which carried me through that time.  The instrumentation is sparing but everything is recorded and used to beautiful effect.   

Marvin Gaye – Inner City Blues

‘What’s Going On’ is such a great record – I first heard Marvin Gaye when I was about 10 on an older friend’s cassette tape and it really got me.   I have a lot of time for music that is beautiful, soulful, inventive, and sharing a message like this, all at once.  

Sonny Sharrock – Black Woman

I still remember the first time someone played this to me. I was blown away by the whole thing but especially Linda Sharrock’s vocals. The recording was made in 1969 with her husband and the vocals feel like such a release. A really powerful recording.

 

Lhasa – Anywhere on this Road

I love this recording so much.  I think Lhasa wrote the song in Marseille, where now I live; sometimes I can hear the sounds that are on this album, just walking around the old port.  The recording blends Lhasa’s varied influences beautifully and talks about being an itinerant singer, which I can relate to.  It also has an incredible trumpet solo by a young Ibrahim Maalouf.

Nina Simone – Wild is the Wind 

The opening notes of this always gives me goosebumps.  I used to walk around New York City at night when I lived there, listening to this song.  I didn’t realise it was another of Nina’s amazing covers (the original is from a film of the same name – sung by Johnny Mathis)  but Nina’s version is next level… The piano is insane, the pacing, the longing in her singing – Nina really gives it everything and it is so moving.

J Allen – Heavy Head

I first met Josh over 15 years ago and he has been a true inspiration to me, both as a friend and as a musician. He’s blessed with this warm, beautiful voice, but also creates wonderful soundscapes in inventive ways. I’ve loved his work in all its iterations. His latest project is called Oblivion Orchestra, but this song is from a solo record called Wonder City recorded in his home town, New York City.

Another Life is out now on Talitres. Look HERE for more information on Nadine Khouri.

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