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Tunisian Artist Nour Harkati Embraces Cultural Influences in ‘Leli’

Artist Nour Harkati wears his cultural influences on his sleeve with a track that explores eastern and western ideas.

Zaid Kreshan

Tunisian Artist Nour Harkati Embraces Cultural Influences in ‘Leli’

Describing himself as a “nomad of music,” New York-based Tunisian artist Nour Harkati knows no boundaries in his musical expression. The singer-songwriter has been on an ongoing journey of musical discovery, taking in sounds from around the world throughout his travels and experiences. Ever since his earliest releases, Nour has been developing his signature acoustic-guitar-centric sound which contains elements of folk, rock, Arabic, and world music.

His most recent release ‘Leli’ sees the artist taking his signature sound in a more cinematic direction while staying true to his vision of cross-cultural musical experimentation. The track starts with a soft and playful acoustic guitar performance that carries a euphoric undertone, but the sensitivity of the playing style makes the melody sound pensive and vulnerable as well.

The melody continues with a steady kick drum coming in to ground the rhythm of the track. We are then met with Nour’s vocals, and right from the start, an eastern influence can be heard in the vocal melody, as the singer comes in with an impactful line that roughly translates to “Be careful around people.” Nour’s simple yet impactful lyricism has been a main pillar of his characteristic sound since the early days of his career, and this track sees the artist’s penmanship evolving as he experiments with new rhythms and vocal ideas.

The artist transitions seamlessly between eastern and western melodies as the track goes along, with rhythmic elements like shakers and claps providing a dynamic background for the vivid lyrics to spark the listener’s imagination.

The video, directed by Elias Cherni, explores a variety of themes such as loneliness and self-reliance, but the theme that takes centre stage is ageing. We start with a young child, riding his bicycle through a barren road, before taking us through multiple points in this character’s life, with shots of him riding the same bicycle as an adult, and then again as a senior. Although themes of ageing and mortality are often dark, the video displays them in a somewhat positive light, giving it an austere sense of beauty that fits the track perfectly.