Tamino’s “Sahar” captures the beauty of dawn



Staff Reporter Tal Barone reviews the artist Tamino’s new album “Sahar.”

Tal Barone, The Carroll News

“Sahar” translates from Arabic to “dawn.” Fittingly, the soundscape of Tamino’s sophomore album evokes the scenery of a sunrise on an autumnal horizon, bleeding colors of crimson, golden and orange reflected in the hues of the fallen leaves. 

As is true of his debut album, “Amir,” there is a pervasive feeling of wistfulness woven throughout “Sahar” in both the music and the lyrics made immediately apparent by the title of the opening track, “The Longing.” Lyrics such as “the longing never watered is the one that grows” and “the longing never bared, aches to be revealed” further set this tone, and the autumn atmosphere is established as Tamino laments how “a sudden wind takes everything from you.” Gently strumming an acoustic guitar made to sound like wavering, glistening rays of early morning sunlight, Tamino seems like a Belgian-Egyptian-Lebanese version of Apollo, the Greek god of sunlight, poetry and music. The stripped-back approach lends itself to a serene and beautiful simplicity, making this music the perfect soundtrack for welcoming a new day.

The second track, “The Flame,” wouldn’t sound out of place on Radiohead’s latest album, “A Moon Shaped Pool,” likely influenced by Tamino’s collaborations with Radiohead’s bassist, Colin Greenwood. Tamino’s vocal delivery even resembles that of Thom Yorke on “A Moon Shaped Pool,” a low and mellow croon that at times rises smoothly into a glorious, dulcet falsetto.

In the haunting third track, “You Don’t Own Me,” the sense of yearning continues, this time taking the form of a strong desire  for freedom from a restrictive relationship as Tamino declares with each chorus, “you don’t know me,” “I don’t owe you,” and finally, “you don’t own me.” 

“Fascination,” the next track on the album, opens with the lyrics, “I lack the colors reflected in your eyes. When you look up to the sky, to me they don’t seem to appear.” Continuing with the central idea of dawn, the song’s narrator seems to indicate a personal inability to be continually amazed by each rising and setting of the sun; his indifference is at odds with the deep appreciation and sensitivity of “you.” Over the course of the song, he finds himself more and more fascinated by the worldview of this person he loves and he learns to love the world through their eyes.

In “Sunflower,” the longing appears as an unrequited love that is to be reciprocated. Tamino and featured artist Angèle sing together over a lilting melody, “oh, baby, don’t you notice me, notice me? So ready to lose everything, everything for your love.” The quiet desperation of “Sunflower” feels vulnerable and heartfelt, like an intimate dedication not intended for an outside audience. 

Similarly, in the next song, “The First Disciple,” also the first single from the album and Tamino’s longest song to date, Tamino almost seems to sigh as he sings the words “you know that for you I’d give an arm” on top of a lute, in signature Tamino fashion of combining Western and Eastern sonic sensibilities to create a unique brand of indie rock not quite found anywhere else.

“But you’re tending to some flowers that have long ceased to bloom. The fresh smell of cinnamon enlightens all the gloom,” Tamino sings in the seventh track, “Cinnamon,” meditating on how the death of everything is made beautiful in autumn – a season often associated with cinnamon and other spices. 

“I’m a recluse and you, you love people…only your love makes me stray.” These lyrics from “Only Our Love” return to the ideas expressed earlier in “Fascination,” those of finding inspiration in another’s personality and perspective.

“A Drop of Blood” sees how “an old yearning rises,” once again contributing to the longing that is at the core of the album. Additionally, imagery of nature is again abundant: “I’ve seen the trees in heart of storm, in clearest skies. I’ve seen them breathe. I’ve seen them fall. I’ve seen them fly. The gentle breeze that stirs their crown flows from the storm that lays them down. Oh may we fight, and may we waltz, and may we find harmony like wind and tree.” This time, the narrator is learning not from observing the world through another person’s eyes but from observing nature directly.

In the last lines of the closing track, “My Dearest Friend and Enemy,” Tamino pleads earnestly, “don’t just look away. Let me know for once what’s on your mind. Leave some truth behind if we go our separate ways, before I step into darker days.” In this way, the end of the album stays true to the characteristic bittersweet vibe of the record and likens the last hurrah of a romance to the end of autumn, evanescing into the darker days of winter. The album ends with dusk fading into night, and if one chooses to re-listen to this album, as I will certainly be doing many times, it will begin again with the next iteration of dawn. 

“Sahar” is an album that takes the listener on a journey through the ephemeral beauties that are immortalized within it. It was well worth the wait since “Amir” for this album to be released, and it serves to reinforce my belief that Tamino is one of the greatest and most under-appreciated young musical acts today.