Leading to the entrance of the Shams Theater, the concert’s poster on the glass door welcomes the audience members standing in front of it, awaiting the launch performance of Nasi, Hana Malhas‘ latest album.

Sponsored by Markazia Lexus, the venue hall welcomes audience members (photo by Zaina Deeb)

Each ticket came with a giveaway copy of Nasi which everyone was anticipating having signed by Malhas. After the concert, Hana indeed met with fans at the nearby café for a friendly chit-chat.

A Stage Well Decorated:

Stage and lighting setup (photo by Zaina Deeb)

With neon-lit squares as the backdrop, the stage on which Malhas launched Nasi was all set and awaiting its audience hours before the music filled the Shams Theater near Downtown Amman.

In an elegant black Reema Dahbour dress, Hana shimmered on stage as she was heavily greeted with applause from her audience. Upon commencing, she did not forget to thank her band, her family, friends, fans as well as the audience members who included a number of familiar faces from the industry insiders.

It definitely felt like a very intimate and casual gathering of friends invited by Malhas to share the fruitful celebration of a year-long’s worth of hard work in preparation to launch this album.

Jordan’s Sweetheart: Multi-talented

Hana Malhas performing in a Reema Dahbour dress during the launch show

Walking towards center stage and surrounded by two keyboards, an iPad and an acoustic guitar, Hana stood there inside a frame of flashy squares. The decorated stage played its part in accentuating the mood depending on each song; the light’s changing colors and patterns followed the beat and mood of each performance throughout the night.

Before inviting everyone on an electro-acoustic pop journey, Hana explained that the songs on the album have a common theme of Time. The 11-track record consists of songs in both English and Arabic either written or co-written by Malhas.

The Band:

Band members from left to right: Nasir AlBashir, Qased Ihsan, Darem Aqrabawi, Hana Malhas, Omar Abbassi, Maxim AlAdham

At the end of every song, Hana narrated a personal story of her connections to each of the professional musicians who accompanied her on stage. Some of whom were there since the beginning of her career, while others have recently joined.

The band consisted of Maxim Al Adham on bass, Nasir Al Bashir on keyboard and backing vocals. On Guitar and Ukulele was Darem Aqrabawi, with drummer Omar Abbassi on his side and accordionist Qased Ihsan swaying the night away.

Let the Music Begin:

Hana Malhas performing at the Nasi launch concert in Amman

The night opened with the slow ballad Bigger Heart being played by Hana on the keyboard. In an attempt to connect with each one of her audience members, a vibration explodes from Malhas throughout the whole theater with her soft and powerful voice reciting I’m not a thief’, instantly stealing everyone’s hearts and holding them captive, only to give them back when she was done.

Nasi: The Album

Cover art of Nasi by Hana Malhas

While the whole album deeply explores one solid theme, I must admit that I found each of the tracks taking me on a different trip, some of which have easily evoked intense emotions.

The titles of the songs might seem unconnected at first, but once you hit that play button, it quickly becomes very obvious that these songs are interconnected within a compilation of deeply thought-of course of lyrics and sounds. Every one of these songs tells a story, and tells it well.


A Letter to Time

Hana takes us on a psychedelic journey of a women lost in her quest for understanding the reality of what’s real.

A Letter to Time opens with “Tired of running… Can’t keep up… You move so fast, yet you stand so still…”. The song questions the ability of our senses in comprehending time and in objectifying it as a relative tool to what we feel and experience.

I personally found that Hana’s choice of opening the album with this track –which has a decent amount of electro composition– was spot on.

Somewhere Far

As we grow, we begin to dwell more frequently on yesterday’s unfulfilled promises. Hana takes us there, to that place, one more time to revisit a sweet memory of what once was a ‘what if’.

She describes overcoming these uncertainties with climbing mountains. But as we climb these mountains, in hopes of reaching closure, we think we succeed as we no longer can see the ground, however, there is a dimmed place inside our minds that will keep questioning our choices. Somewhere Far is a beautifully composed ballad of contradicting attachments and detachments.

Addiction

It is a story as old as time; a psychological battle between the two very real emotions: the desire of letting go and its opposition of clinging tight.

Who of us hasn’t felt that overwhelming dilemma of being torn between love and hate? A feeling too strong to ignore, yet very hard to embrace – as one might easily lose judgment when in need for another tiny dose of love!

Hana Malhas performing at the Nasi launch concert in Amman

Alb Maskoon

Alb Maskoon definitely feels like an Arabic tell-a-tale that stands on the borderline of romance vs. desire. Hana’s angelic voice chants a lover’s confession of actually possessing his/her lovers and leaving them powerless.

The song sweeps you into the presence of another realm in less than a heartbeat, where you get to experience what it feels like to be madly in love again.

Code

Warning: The beat in this song will leave you craving a dance floor, and NOW!

Code actually matches its title as it explores the possibility of deciphering that overwhelming feeling of uncontrollable, yet very strong, attraction.

Nasi

Brand New

That sweet feeling of falling in love for the first time is vivid in Brand New. The song voices our constant desire to rewind the time machines in our heads and relive that moment again and again.

No matter how far we move or how old we become, the first time our heart skips a beat becomes the benchmark that defines all our upcoming relations. And we will often unconsciously try our best to involve that special euphoric sensation.

The Next Sunrise

The next sunrise always holds a surprise! A song of infusing hope and willpower as well as the absurdity of holding onto what might be causing us distress.

The Next Sunrise preaches letting go of regrets as they are not worth the emotional effort.

Light Up Your Brain

Dreaming of a better tomorrow, this song is all about what awaits ahead and how it all initiates in one’s head.

The possibilities are endless with each rising sun – where dreams and lovers can fill any void needed to pursue one’s best potential… no matter what that might be.

Hana Malhas and band performing at the Nasi launch concert in Amman

Bigger Heart

In a story that foreshadows a pinch of sadness, a lover is trying to live in the moment, cease it for eternity. In longing for the eternal solace in holding onto a fairy tale that is taking over everything. Though this lover needs “a bigger heart to hold all this love”, there is an end to every story the minute it begins.

Spin

An enchantment of creation. Where life has just begun and when time itself was irrelevant. The momentum of twirling cycles that brought us into existence.


A Romantic Journey in Time

The show was a successful reflection of Hana’s album. The music took us on a romantic journey, where the songs were the driver. The songs were employed well along with the brilliant lyrics and smooth tunes. Every bit of the concert showed Malhas’ extraordinary talent in singing, playing the piano and the acoustic guitar. And finally, with her shining star on the rise, it won’t be too long before we start hearing Hana‘s music blasting on the big screen.

 

Stream Nasi here 

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All images courtesy of Hana Malhas except where indicated.