Lyrical Singers Nefeli Fasouli and Mona Miari Bring Darkly Thoughtful Greek and Palestinian Sounds to the East Village
There’s an intriguing twinbill coming up at Drom on April 26 at 8 PM that will probably slip under the radar outside the two artists’ individual diasporas, but if outside-the-box sounds are your thing, you shouldn’t sleep on it. Palestinian singer Mona Miari and Greek chanteuse Nefeli Fasouli share a searching, tender vocal quality, Miari the more overtly neosoul-influenced of the two. There isn’t much in English about either artist on the web, which puts you in the front of the line if you might be interested in checking them out live. Cover is $25.
Miami, for example, has just a single youtube clip: a lilting mashup of a couple of flamenco and Andalucian folk tunes. Fasouli recorded her album Your World – streaming at Bandcamp – live in the studio sometime before the 2020 global coup d’etat and ended up waiting to release it until June of the following year. It’s a fascinating, often wickedly catchy blend of dusky Greek traditional sounds, psychedelia, European jazz and occasional latin influences from guitarist and main songwriter Fivos Delivorias. Fasouli sings in Greek: her band (uncredited on the Bandcamp page) also features acoustic and electric piano, a rhythm section and occasional horns.
The opening number is Ride, an elegant, gently soaring cosmopolitan jazz tune that rises to a lively charanga atmosphere. She and the band follow with I Don’t Know What It Looks Like, a moody, cumulo-nimbus minor-key rembetiko theme bolstered by looming brass on the low end.
The title track is a poignant, hushed, wary fado-esque ballad set to a spiky interweave of guitar and bouzouki, Then the group dance through The Voice, a spare, bitingly chromatic, icepick electric rembetiko melody, Fasouli rising to an angst-fueled peak
For One Summer, a swaying, catchy rock ballad, wouldn’t have been out of the place as a hit for the Police in the early 80s. Next up is In Acherousia, a bouncy, electrified folk dance tune with clavinova and staccato electric guitar
When You Fall, a pensive minor-key waltz, has terse piano, organ and fiery blues guitar from Delivorias. Organ and electric guitar also figure in I’ll Tell You, a tricky, funkily syncopated party anthem that’s a mashup of Greek folk and LA lowrider latin soul.
Casa Malaparte, a low-key, uneasy, understatedly syncopated piano ballad, pulses along with some dramatic cymbal work. Delivorias takes over the mic for the first verse of the final cut, which translates roughly as Live Onstage and brings the album full circle with a blend of Euro-jazz, lingering nocturnal rembetiko and more than a hint of classic salsa. We so seldom get to hear such an intriguing mix of sounds in New York these days.