Album Review: Sounds of Refuge from the stars of The Jungle

In Albums, London theatre, Opinion, Plays, Reviews, Ticket recommendations by Debbie GilpinLeave a Comment

Good Chance Theatre presents the debut world music album from stars of The Jungle which is available to pre-order now, in advance of its official release on 31 August 2018. It blends the musical talents of John Falsetto and Mohamed Sarrar with spoken word from Ammar Haj Ahmad, blending Zimbabwean, Sudanese & Syrian influences to create something bold and new. The eight-track album was recorded earlier this year at the iconic Abbey Road Studios, with assistance from Duncan Webb on piano and keys.

The aim of the album is to challenge preconceptions people may have about refuge and refugees; creativity in those situations might seem, in some ways, to be at the back of people’s minds, when in fact it might be the simplest way of keeping yourself going. Music is one of the few unifying forces that can bring people together and provide solace & freedom of expression. You don’t even need to speak the same language – as is demonstrated by Sounds of Refuge. Understanding the specific words isn’t necessarily important, as long as you can feel the emotion of the songs coming through then its work is done.

For me, what comes through most strongly is a feeling of hope. Whether it’s in the midst of sorry or joy, you can’t help but be moved by the spirit of hopefulness that manages to persist through it all. Performing with a mix of traditional instruments – darbuka & djembe (two types of drum) and John Falsetto’s specialism of the mbira (also known as a ‘thumb piano’) – and singing along, the trio bring their compositions to life with a commitment & authenticity that could not be forced.

Ammar Haj Ahmad, Mohamed Sarrar and John Falsetto
Photo credit: Emily Webb

Opening with the upbeat Akadela gets the album off to a great start, which is then followed by a more thoughtful & pensive track in Amai – with some lines in English we get a clearer idea of the storytelling, and you can hear the raw emotion in their voices as they sing. Another standout track is Usatye, which incorporates more English as well as some of John’s renowned falsettos. You can particularly hear the blend of the modern with the traditional here, combining to make something familiar but fresh.

Lead track Refuge will soon be accompanied by a music video featuring Good Chance friends from across the globe. It is in this track that the blend of the three performers’ origins really hits home; Refuge has the feel of a journey about it as they move from one strain to another, and a definite sense of the epic. It’s an incredibly affecting listen.

In a time where news outlets and cold-hearted politicians seem intent on dehumanising groups of individuals who are merely attempting to survive, Sounds of Refuge is the perfect antidote. A wonderful artistic endeavour filled with hypnotic melodies & lyrical language, and the power of hope.

Mohamed Sarrar and John Falsetto
Photo credit: Ammar Haj Ahmad

Sounds of Refuge is available to pre-order on iTunes, Apple Music & Amazon Music, with limited edition CDs available from 6 August 2018 – the full release date is 31 August 2018.

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Tags: album, Ammar Haj Ahmad, Duncan Webb, Good Chance, Good Chance Theatre, John Falsetto, John Pfumojena, Mohamed Sarrar, music, review, Sounds of Refuge, The Jungle, World MusicCategories: all posts, music, review

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Debbie Gilpin
Debbie Gilpin stumbled into writing about theatre when she moved to London after studying for a degree in Human Genetics at Newcastle University. She started her website Mind the Blog in November 2014 and also tweets from @Mind_the_Blog. She spent the best part of 2014-16 inadvertently documenting Sunny Afternoon in the West End, and now also writes for BroadwayWorld UK. Debbie’s theatre passions are Shakespeare and new writing, but she’s also a sucker for shows with a tap routine.
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Debbie Gilpin on FacebookDebbie Gilpin on Twitter
Debbie Gilpin
Debbie Gilpin stumbled into writing about theatre when she moved to London after studying for a degree in Human Genetics at Newcastle University. She started her website Mind the Blog in November 2014 and also tweets from @Mind_the_Blog. She spent the best part of 2014-16 inadvertently documenting Sunny Afternoon in the West End, and now also writes for BroadwayWorld UK. Debbie’s theatre passions are Shakespeare and new writing, but she’s also a sucker for shows with a tap routine.