Elissa’s New Album: As3ad Wa7da – Review

Remember when I told you Lebanese artists have absolutely no system for releasing albums and that Elissa actually setting a release date for her album was a good thing?

Well, I was wrong. Instead of releasing the album on June 25th, as planned, Elissa’s new album As3ad Wa7da (The Happiest One) was just released, a full week early. I believe it’s due to an early leak which is no excuse for a rush release. I doubt though that her fans are displeased.

The reason I’m reviewing this album, with it not being English music, is that I like Elissa. She is one of my favorite contemporary Lebanese singers, regardless of what some people might say about her vocal abilities. What impresses me the most about her is the fact that she is vocal about her beliefs, be it her religion or political views, in a region where that is frowned upon. I also liked the fact that her albums would usually be balanced between Egyptian and Lebanese songs, not exactly giving one dialect an upper hand over the other.

That last point changed with her newest release. The album holds 14 songs, 2 of which are covers of songs by the late Salwa el Atrib and Warda. Out of the remaining 12 songs, which constitute the new material, 3 are Lebanese songs and the rest is Egyptian. I don’t want to sound xenophobic but I would expect a little more balance from an artist who hails Lebanese nationalism as her politics of choice.

But I digress.

The quality of Elissa’s new album is average compared to her previous releases. After different album covers surfaced, the official one being the one at the top of this post, I was skeptical at what might come out of this. But it was a more or less an enjoyable listen.

Opening with the Egyptian dialect-song “Fi Ouyonak” (In Your Eyes), she caters to the people who await such a style from her: the slow, mellow romantic songs. And then as the album moves through songs, its level doesn’t die down. It remains more or less consistent, giving songs here and there that would please different parts of Elissa’s core fanbase which has been awaiting her album for more than two years now.

Te3ebt Minnak, my favorite song on the album, comes as the fifth track on the album and is as song about a relationship gone sour where the protagonist in Elissa’s song is tired from the person she’s singing to. “I wait for one sweet word from you and when I hear it, I forgot I lived less than an ordinary life with you”

Corny, perhaps. But effective. Of course, that’s my loose translation of one of the song’s lyrics.

Other interesting songs on the album are the Lebanese: Kerehtak Ana and Eghmerni. The former comes around the middle of the album while the latter follows it a song later. Kerehtak Ana is obviously about the end of the relationship while Eghmerni is the total opposite, boasting some interesting poetic nuances from writer Siham el Sha3sha3. However, both of them could have been so much better – they both needed an extra revision to bring them to their full potential, be it musically or production-wise.

Elissa’s take on Salwa el Atrib’s  “Alouli el Eid” is interesting but I’m a fan of the song to begin with while her cover of Warda’s “Lola el Malama” shows a side of her vocals that most people would have doubted otherwise. Lola el Malama is also better-delivered from Elissa than Alouli el Eid.

As3ad Wa7da could have used the touch of Marwan Khoury who delivered some of Elissa’s best songs (Betmoun comes to mind), but overall it will satisfy those who like her. However, once the initial hype sets down, one wonders is this really the best Elissa can come up with after a two year and a half wait?

Judging by her more superior previous albums, As3ad Wa7da is an album that made Elissa transiently happy and will make her fans also happy that their favorite singer delivered a new album for them to listen to. But as a casual fan, As3ad Wa7da does almost nothing for me, apart from the few songs on there that I consider as interesting. In fact, I think it lacks anything that would jump at you like her previous albums did (the previous one had Aa Bali Habibi, the one before had Betmoun). Some songs on there are also entirely dispensable that I’ve found myself completely losing interesting halfway through them.

Overall, As3ad Wa7da has the exact formula that an Elissa album would have, except the songs are not as striking: the romantic slow songs, the upbeat dancey songs and the midtempos with trance verses interspersed in them.

6/10

Listen to: Te3ebt Minnak, Kerehtak Ana, As3ad Wa7da.

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20 thoughts on “Elissa’s New Album: As3ad Wa7da – Review

  1. The album misses the touch of Marwan Khoury for sure, and “Eghmerni” should have been better, you’re absolutely right.
    My favorites are “Kerehtak ana”, “T3ebt menna”, “Fe 3younak”, “Albi Hases feek”, “Lola El Malama” and “Alouli El Eid”.
    But overall I like the album, as always Elissa is special and far better than others when it comes to choices, preparations and image…

    Reply
    • I agree on the favorites. The last two are a given that’s why I didn’t mention them (You can’t not like them).

      But overall, I think this album is lacking compared to her other works. It lacks a huge hit song such as “3a bali Habibi” or “Betmoun” and it has way too many Egyptian songs, some of which are uselss (Haylif something, enno really?”

      Reply
      • haha!! I agree, too many Egyptian songs and that’s a problem with the Lebanese singers nowadays and I don’t get it; I hear Saber Rebai for example singing very nice Lebanese songs and Lebanese rush to Egyptian songs that are mostly shallow :-/.
        The songs you mentioned are the greatest hits in her career as well as “enta la meen”, “w byeste7i” (kamen should have been better since the lyrics also by Siham Sha3sha3 were great), unfortunately none of the songs in this album stand out in the same way.

        Reply
  2. I haven’t listened to the album (and probably won’t bother getting and playing it) but I will be commenting on the album strategy. First, I’m not a fan of Elissa. She has some good songs, but that doesnt give her the chance to be in my best singer list.
    I like Haifa for instance. She is smart (maybe not her, but the team that working with her) and she is working on her image as well as her product. She is always looking for new music to present and she always looks for new image to appear in. And to top it all, the team working with her has done a great job giving her a status on twitter and have promoted her pretty good through social media and itunes for example.

    Elissa should have at least tried to work on that level of promoting rather than failing to deliver the correct album cover and the release date.

    P.S.: my inner conspiracy theorist claims that elissa changed the album cover (the one with the rose) because it got some bad (comic) comments. But it could have been her way of stirring up the world by gaining (bad) publicity (based on the theory: there is no such thing as bad publicity)

    Reply
    • I don’t like Haifa when it comes to her “music.” My best friend asked me to listen to Haifa’s album to see if it’s worth it. I tried to. Couldn’t go through it all. At least this one I can actually listen to without wanting to smash something. Different tastes.
      Incidentally, Elissa has more twitter followers than Haifa. So you know she’s doing the social media thing pretty well.

      Regarding the album cover, she never said the rose thing was the album cover. In fact, she said it wasn’t. But because it was the first image to surface from the album, people naturally assumed it is despite her saying so. What I thought was the album cover was the one where she looked like Harissa (and which I was first to point out in my blog post about her song. Others blogs soon followed suite).

      I don’t think Elissa needs bad publicity. She’s too “huge” an artist for that – anything she releases will sell. It’s the way things are. I am not a fan of Arabic music to begin with but she is one of the contemporary commercial artists that I actually like.

      Reply
  3. Ur judge was so fast couple of hours from its release…u might change ur mind 🙂 anyways as u said its a matter of taste

    Reply
  4. albi hasis fik is the return of the original elissa style, written by jean saliba her first producer, its most of her music after she stopped working with him and jean marie riachi too thats more egyptian and generic

    Reply
  5. hahahaha, as3ad wa7da is a pure amazing track its my first time ever i hear such a high quality house stylish arab song its amazingly amazing..marwa khoury didnt even do any songs for noe one and it did hit…i think as3ad wa7da is the best song in the album…

    Reply
  6. I am a fan of Elissa. She is the only singer that I enjoy listening to her entire albums and keep listening. But the truth is that the new album had disappointed me. After 3 years of waiting it wasnt what I expected. The songs need to be re-arranged somehow. the opening of some songs is amazing but once you’re in the middle of the song, the feeling is not the same anymore. I dont want to compare with her previous albums but it’s just not what we deserve as fans and what she can give. as for me I like “albi 7ases fik” and “Rohtelo”. “as3ad wa7da” is nice but cant really be the title of the album. somesongs are really boring such as “haylef” and “moutafa2la” and “sa3at”. Even the song of Siham al Sha3sha3 is less than normal. Sorry for being tough in my judgment. But it’s just I really like Elissa’s songs and she is the ONLY singer that I wait for her new releases. If I could have chosen a song for warda for Elissa, I would have picked “habibi khalik ma3aya”. this song is typically Elissa. I advice you to listen to it on youtube. I think that she have to start working on a new album and avoid this time to wait 3 years to release it.

    Reply

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