Khaled ‘C’est la vie’ (Blue Wrasse) 2/5

Algerian born, but now French resident singer Khaled was one of the major stars of world roots music from the 1980s onwards, but has been badly advised on this project which has the pop producer’s Red One (he of Lady Gaga and J. Lo) ultra glossy production all over it. This change in sound to a pumping dance music beat may attract a few non-roots fans, but is far more likely to alientate his grass roots base who are used to quality music. There are three French language songs featured and ‘Encore une fois’ is clearly aimed at commercial success, but in the process has sucked all the originality that typifies Khaled’s music out of him. There is some much needed relief on ‘Dina Labess’ which is a thinly disguised ‘Didi Pt 2’, though even here the production sound becomes all too intrusive. Only in the seocnd half of the album is a total abyss narrowly avoided and here may lie the genesis for a far more interesting project, namely fusing folksy acoustic Algerian sounds with Andalusian flavours. The modern update on Arabo-Andalusian music on ‘Elle est partie’ is both compelling and inspiring and this is a pathway Khaled would be wise to follow in future if he wishes to retain his credibility as a roots musician. There is no question that Khaled’s voice is as strong as it ever was, but this is is a deeply misguided project that is best committed to the dustbin with the swiftest possible haste. Tim Stenhouse

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