Be prepared for the usual sounds of City Heights to be complemented by a not-oft-heard (in that neighborhood, anyway) shout-out to a semi-mythical Somali queen of female empowerment named Araweelo. The tale Hussein spins on the title track of her new album Fool’s Paradise, which features the Somali-Canadian vocalist singing in Somali on record for the first time, concerns how Araweel violently castrated her male prisoners, almost surely a topic never before tackled in song by a Canadian Juno Award nominee for Breakthrough Artist of the Year.
Both that track and “Wild Card” was produced and mixed by longtime collaborator Jim Anderson, both featuring guest bassist Tim Kingsbury (Arcade Fire), who adds a welcome pop sheen to the proceedings. Hussein’s own career path seems to have eschewed chasing those streaming stats in favor of high-profile commercially released collaborations, where she’s been able to maintain her distinctively soulful muse while appearing on records by Moby, Massive Attack, Swans, and jazz trumpeter Ambrose Akinmusire. The latter returned the favor by appearing on her sophomore full-length Neuroplasticity, which also features Swans founder Michael Gira.