Hanni El Khatib Effortlessly Weaves Genres Together on 'Flight'
Published May 15, 2020"Carry," the first track on Hanni El Khatib's fifth album, Flight, begins with a slow, electronic drum beat and then evolves into something grungier. This is a foretaste of the entire album which layers grunge, surf rock, R&B, and electronica in a manner that is not jarring. Or, maybe it is slightly jarring, in a good way. There is a Beck-like sensibility, combining grunge rock and electronica like it's no big deal.
Flight contains more electronica than much of El Khatib's previous work. This is a step in a progression for this 38-year-old San Francisco-born musician influenced by surf and soul, who has reimagined works by Louis Armstrong and Funkadelic alongside original compositions.
"Stressy" begins with a frantic drum beat that invokes the name of the song and continues with relatively understated vocals. Some of the tracks have a smooth feel; "Gem" is slow and trippy with harmonious vocals backing the instrumentals, and "Alive" has a similarly pleasant sound accompanying the lyrical refrain, "I can't believe I survived." "Leader" and "Colors" are faster and more abrasive while "Dumb" gets a bit repetitive, but the brief swell of instruments toward the end is a welcome surprise.
The lyrics in Flight generally take centre stage and are clear and discernible. While the album could be described as moody, and there certainly are dramatic shifts in mood throughout, there is also always the feeling of sunny skies above. The music conjures up the grit of the beach, the flow of the ocean, and the hot concrete below the unrelenting sun of the Pacific coast. (Innovative Leisure)