Wednesday 10 July 2024

'Studies in a Dying Love' by Aladean Kheroufi

Art has long-professed to be a divine force that unites people across the board - there's always talk of artists extolling the virtues of the healing power of music and of using their art to inspire positivity and hope in others.  All of that is a beautiful thing but, conversely, there's something a little alluring about music that regards a world in a harsher reality...

A good album title can be a captivating selling point in of itself; last year we celebrated the wonderful concept underpinned by Laura Llorens & The Shadows of Love's 'No Love No Peace' which seemed to reject the idea of hope in these increasingly dark times of social unrest, political uncertainty and sitting on the cusp of a world war, and of course who could discount Curtis Mayfield's bleak prophetic perspective declaring '(Don't Worry) If There's a Hell Below, We're All Going to Go'.

Aladean Kheroufi's 'Studies in a Dying Love' actually instils that same level of intrigue in the album's underlying message.  Is his a resigned outlook conceding that all is lost or does Kheroufi still see something around him worth saving?

For Kheroufi, this very question has perhaps served as a long-running theme throughout his music releases to date.  The Canadian singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist - of Algerian descent - has amassed a sublime selection of sweet soul music rooted in lamenting love lost.  With prior single releases 'Sorry if I Hurt You', 'Maybe She'd Stay' and 'Beauty Beyond Grief', Kheroufi has become fairly adept in finding the beauty from the bleakest of circumstances.

An incredibly effective and articulate writer, Kheroufi injects so much charisma and personality into his songs which is what ultimately make his lovelorn predicaments so relatable.  The Bandcamp description for 'Studies in a Dying Love' features such a charming description of the album's theme that further suggests a fear of the inevitably of change and the complexities of the spoils not always found in the journey, "I want to be a professional boxer but I never want to get hurt.  I want my white sneakers to stay clean but some might call that living in a day dream."

Kheroufi's exceptional vision is brought to life from a wonderful supporting cast of musicians across the album's eleven tracks.  Names like guitarist Trevor McNeely, drummers Elijah Browning and Connor Ellinger, flautist Josephine Junas-Grant and trumpeter Billy Aukstik from the brilliant Dala Records all perform exquisitely, helping to create a deliciously rich sonic backdrop for Kheroufi to present his narrative.  Clinging to traditional perceptions of soul music, the album's heartfelt and sincere perspectives proudly carry the torch for the genre's forefathers while firmly establishing Aladean Kheroufi as a compulsory voice for today's soul music scene.

If this is in fact Aladean Kheroufi's ode to a "dying love" then - as sad as that is - it still makes for a beautiful send-off.

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