New York, NY (Top40 Charts)
With the release of Yara Lapidus' Just a Dream
Away, her first album in the US and Canada, the poetic, multilingual and cross-genre artist has quickly gained traction and respect, ranking near the top of Billboard's New Age charts for numerous weeks and garnering Grammy and HMMA nominations. The Beirut-born, Paris-based singer—whose album features songs in English, French and Arabic--brings creative breadth to her life as a musician, after a successful fashion designer career through her label, Y by Yara.
Visions of that artistic expansiveness are expressed in the newly-released first video connected to the album, a dazzling setting of her Arabic language version of John Lennon's "How," called "How-Kif." Producer Dawn Elder earned a "best produced song of the year" nomination for the track from the Hollywood Music
in Media Awards (HMMA).
"How-Kif's" artful video interpretation establishes one more step forward and upward in the fast-rising phenomenon of Lapidus' album. Recorded at Los Angeles' legendary Sunset Sound and in London's Abbey Road, Just a Dream
Away was inventively produced, partially arranged and with collaborative Arabic lyric adaptations by Elder, boasting a list of collaborators including famed Oscar-winning film composer (and fellow Beirut
native) Gabriel Yared, Brazil's singer-songwriter Chico
César, Palestinian oud master Simon
Sheen, and even a cameo by Iggy Pop
(on "Encor Encor").
Twin angles on Lennon's emotionally yearning ballad "How" (from 1971's Imagine) appear, in English and (Lebanese) Arabic versions (the first time the Lennon estate has allowed a Lennon song to be performed in a non-English language). Shot by acclaimed, eco-activist French Photographer -Filmmaker Yann Arthus-Bertrand, the "How-Kif" video lavishes the eye with dreamy footage of natural splendor, often in mirror-image, mandala-like symmetry, with the singer often appearing in the center or floating in the ether. Into those idyllic scenes, however, are sobering references to the ravages of environmental decay and industrial waste.
A timeless anthem, Lennon's original is bought into a new, contemporary relief and given a fresh international persona, with lyrics sung in Lebanese Arabic. From its first line--"How can I go forward when I don't know which way I'm facing"—the song frankly addresses personal uncertainty and the power of hope, kindness and love to restore.
Now with the visual help of Arthus-Bertrand's engaging role as videographer with a photographer's keen eye, Lapidus expands that theme of uncertainty and underlying idealism to a global level. It is both a cautionary tale and a gesture of gratitude to Mother Earth.