Zein Al-Jundi and Sri Kirtan

Sharrafouni, and Live Your Love (WMDP)

Texas Platters

Zein Al-Jundi

Sharrafouni (WMDP)

Sri Kirtan

Live Your Love (Mantralogy)

The gorgeous Arabic folk-pop of local singer/entrepreneur Zein Al-Jundi's latest disc Sharrafouni comes at an auspicious time. Al-Jundi grew up in Syria, a singing sensation from age 5 until she retired at 17 to pursue her education. Coming to the U.S. in 1982, she earned her degree at UT and returned to singing. Recorded in Syria, Beirut, and Egypt, Sharrafouni layers a modern pulse and world music elements over traditional Middle Eastern material with seamless flair ("Habib el Alb"). You need not speak her language to understand the cheeky tone of the Latin-flavored "Ya Habibi." Sri Kirtan's Ishwari, meanwhile, arrived at UT in the late 1970s as Lynn Keller, singer for überpunk band the Reversible Cords, and stayed through the indie-rock 1990s. Her embrace of kirtan, the devotional chants of India, comes similarly parsed between traditional and contemporary with superb results on Live Your Love. Unmistakable rock influences in Ishwari imbue this sacred music with Western edge – "Govinda" features a rap segment, and the title track might be cribbed for a cruise line commercial – but its peerless vision of world music through the message of love is deeply compelling.

(Sharrafouni) **.5

(Live Your Love) ***

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