Maryam Saleh would have already been a household name if it wasn’t for her polarizing musical sensibilities that always managed to keep some people at an arm’s length. Regardless, her influence and significance are undeniable, and her advancements to niche and indie music have successfully sent waves all across the region, continually sending a message to newer artists that it’s ok to have a distinctive voice and style that doesn’t necessarily fit in. And for that, among artists, Maryam is held in very high regard.
Maryam’s 6-year absence has been long, many people thought that she quit and a return was slowly fading away from the hopes of her fans, let alone a return that is a striking transition from Maryam’s usual alt-indie\anti-folk sound. So naturally, when she announced a return earlier in the month that features a collaboration with famed electronic music producer Hello Psychaleppo, all eyes (and ears) were on her.
Maryam returns with ‘Baghanny’, a take on her first studio album that dropped way back in 2012 and was titled ‘Mesh Baghanny’. Even the cover art for that album, and her most recent single are almost identical. On ‘Baghanny’ we see a side of Saleh that we have rarely -if ever- seen before. Utilizing Hello Psychaleppo’s synth pop production sensibilities, the song is pure alt pop with solid, electronic beats, colorful synth leads, and a discernible, easy to follow composition that is a departure from Saleh’s denser and less accessible compositions before her lengthy disappearance.
Don‘t be fooled into thinking that Maryam has gone all soft though. On ‘Baghanny’, we have Saleh’s beautiful, energizing voice once again in full swing, with stirring lyrics, and a moving performance that shows us what Maryam is truly capable of as a singer. Saleh’s stylistic departure can be viewed as a one-time experiment with one of the region’s more revered producers, or it can be viewed as an appropriate departure that’s as dramatic as the change we’ve all seen in all walks of life over the last six years. If so much has changed in the global economic, social, and political landscapes over that period, it’s kinda daft to expect that Maryam Saleh’s music would remain the same. But maybe less daft to reject this change.
We believe that ‘Baghanny’ is a great return of one of the region’s more influential artists. Not only do we have Maryam’s powerful and impassioned singing, we also have a new face for her music that’s catchy and appealing. We are all in for artists who venture out to explore different skins and personalities for their art. Maryam Saleh’s return receives a healthy ‘Pass’ from us, and regardless of where she chooses to go next, we will be waiting with the same anticipation we had for ‘Baghanny’.