“Beirut” is Lebanese singer Yasmin Hamdan’s latest offering from her third LP “Ya Nass” (“Oh People”). The album comes with a little help from producer Marc Collin of the French covers band Nouvelle Vague. “Beirut” starts like a nostalgic torch song, but later descends into the harsher realities of Lebanon’s capital.
Its lyrics – an adaption of the 1940s works of Lebanese lyricist Omar El Zenni – function as an homage to the complexities of the city: “Oh the strutting / That fancy livin’ /Excess of splurging / Exploded vanity / Smothering Beirut”. Hamdan’s mysterious voice soars and staggers into ghost-like whispers as gentle guitar strumming builds to an anthemic ballad.
The song makes more sense within an album that plays with dialects and stories from throughout the Arab World – “Beirut” is sung in a Lebanese dialect, “Baaden” is Egyptian and Palestinian, “Irss” is Kuwaiti, “In Kan Fouadi” is Egyptian and “Samar” is Khaleeji.