New releases from UAE-based artists Alexis, Saffron

Dubai-based teenage singer-songwriter Saffron. (Supplied)
Updated 11 February 2019

New releases from UAE-based artists Alexis, Saffron

  • Here are the new releases from UAE-based music artists
  • Alexia and Saffron are both under Universal MENA deals

DUBAI: R&B singer-songwriter and producer Alexis has released her sophomore album “This Is Me…” on Universal Music MENA — her first record for the label and almost a decade on from the release of her debut album, 2010’s “Speak Love Life Lessons,” which was released by EMI, and which spawned an album of remixes — “Speak Loud” — in 2014.
Alexis told Arab News that she comes from a family with “roots in North Africa and the Arabian Peninsula” and that she remembers growing up with the music of Umm Kulthum playing in the house. She found herself drawn to female vocalists.
“There was something about powerful women and the effect of song that really resonated with me, and it stuck with me,” she said.
Her mainly self-produced album (“Love Will…” is a collaboration with Grammy-winning producers Carvin & Ivan) is, according to the label, “a suite of material that gives an unambiguous and candid view into her life,” imbuing “her signature R&B vocals across Middle Eastern rhythms, trap beats, bluegrass banjos and symphonic string arrangements.”

“This Is Me…” was released last Friday, and Alexis said she has already received feedback from people in the US, Africa, the Middle East, Spain, the Far East, and Russia. Audience response is one of the things she most appreciates about her music career, she explained.
“It’s a communion that is like nothing else. I love that something that comes from just a dream or a thought can affect people that I don’t know from such diverse backgrounds. That still amazes me. And I don’t think I will ever become jaded about it,” she said. “That’s powerful.”
Another Universal MENA artist, Dubai-based teenage singer-songwriter Saffron (Collins) recently released her latest single, “I Liked You.” Musically, Saffron told Arab News, the track was inspired by Colombian-American artist Kali Uchis’ “Dead To Me,” particularly that song’s “catchy drum and bass line.”
As for the lyrics, she expained: “The song delves into the reality of rejection and how having a crush can make you feel so good and so awful at the same time.”
Both “This Is Me…” and “I Liked You” are out now on all major digital music platforms.

REVIEW: Second season of Sacred Games mirrors the ills of today's India

Updated 17 August 2019

REVIEW: Second season of Sacred Games mirrors the ills of today's India

CHENNAI: The first season of “Sacred Games” last year was a hit, and the second edition, which began streaming on Netflix on Aug. 15, may be even more so.

The eight episodes explore some of India's most pressing current issues such as a nuclear threat, terrorism and inter-religious animosity dating back to the country's 1947 partition. It. It also addresses how religious men can indulge in the most unholy of acts, including helping corrupt politicians.

Some of the greatest films have had conflict and war as their backdrop: “Gone with the Wind,” “Casablanca,” “Ben-Hur” and “Garam Hawa,” to mention a few. The second season of “Sacred Games” also unfolds in such a scenario, with terrorism and inter-communal disharmony having a rippling effect on the nation.

Directed by Anurag Kashyap (“Gangs of Wasseypur,” “Black Friday”) and Neeraj Ghaywan (“Masaan,” which premiered at Cannes in 2015), the web series, based on Vikram Chandra's 2006 novel, unfolds with Ganesh Gaitonde (played by Nawazuddin Siddiqui) escaping from prison and finding himself in Mombasa. He has been carted there by an agent of India's

Research and Analysis Wing, Kusum Devi Yadav (Amruta Subhash), who forces him to help find Shahid Khan (Ranvir Shorey), the mastermind behind bomb blasts and terror attacks.

In Mumbai, police inspector Sartaj (Saif Ali Khan) has just two weeks to save the city from a nuclear attack, which Gaitonde had warned him about. Both men love Mumbai and do not want it to be destroyed. But religious extremist Khanna Guruji (Pankaj Tripathi) and his chief disciple Batya Ableman (Kalki Koechlin) believe that only such a catastrophic destruction can help cleanse society and bring a cleaner, saner new order.

A narrative of deceit, betrayal, love and longing, the second season has a plodding start, but picks up steam from the fourth episode, with Sartaj and his men racing against time to find a nuclear time bomb that could wipe out Mumbai. Crude dialogue and a constant doomsday atmosphere could have been avoided, but riveting performances by the lead pair – Khan and Siddiqui (though he is getting typecast in this kind of role) – and nail-biting thrills make this Netflix original dramatically captivating.