Tamara Qaddoumi Crosses A Sea Of Hurt In ‘Under the Knife’

Lebanese-Kuwaiti singer-songwriter Tamara Qaddoumi’s “Under the Knife” fuses a soothing sound and dark lyrics.

Tamara Qaddoumi – Under The Knife

The lead single from Tamara Qaddoumi’s upcoming EP “Sorry Signal”, due on 8 December, “Under the Knife” is an aethereal wave jam with an ever-soaring synth melody. Her vocals seem to have taken a few cues from fellow Beiruti semi-mystical cerebral songstress Yasmine Hamdan but with a more velvety quality and a bit more fullness. Aided by some welcome reverb effects, Qaddoumi’s voice plays like the warm embrace of some Galadriel-like entity hovering in the aether. This all combines into a breath-takingly sultry atmosphere, almost like a more New Wave-leaning recreation of Enya’s “Shepherd Moons” era.

The words she is whisper-singing are definitely not comforting, though. Her metaphor-laden lyrics are almost cryptic and ditch objective clarity for rich visual symbolism. “Sadness which follows the sails”, “Swimming under the knife”, “With the crooked hand of death /I fall behind”, “I swim but I can’t reach the water”… Whichever specific story inspired this oeuvre clearly revolves around an internal journey of self-healing or at least learning to come to terms with pain. Still the unwavering serenity of her voice plays like a sign of strength and self-assurance, as if she is certain that a bright sun is due to appear after this storm.

The accompanying music video goes for quite a literal illustration of the words and has Qaddoumi swimming in the deep sea. The silken veils wrapped around her garment light the way through dim, uninviting waters. She does, however, stop to frolic around some colourful seaweeds every now and then, like an innocent water nymph.

Tamara Qaddoumi takes inspiration from her native Kuwait and her current home Lebanon as well as her Palestinian and Scottish heritage in her work, which reflects her constant inner search for identity. She describes making and listening to her own music as her way of “staying sane”. With her previous two albums, she has been featured by the likes of Marie Claire, Vogue, and Bazaar. Her second single “Over Fire” is due on 10 November.

“With dark cryptic lyrics and a soaring aethereal synth melody, the song plays like a synthed up version of Enya’s Shepherd Moons era”

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Words Fernando de Oliveira Lúcio