"Sofia", ARKAN's third album, is based on a personal tragedy faced by one of the members of the French / North African band: the sudden loss of a life far too young.
That deep personal crisis easily explains the change of spirit in ARKAN's music, which occurred between 2011's sophomore album "Salam" ("Peace") and "Sofia".
The band's trademark whirlwind of Arabic percussion and crushing guitar riffing has audibly matured into a much more melancholic and subtle sound.
There are still those magical moments of ancient oriental string instruments, but they blend in more organically than before.
The dark warmth of Sarah Layssac's vocals has deservedly gained more room, while Florent Jannier's deep growls now rarely make an appearance in favour of more clean singing.
Heartbreaking suffering has been turned into music.
Yet instead of wailing in self-pity, beauty and hope are offered without forgetting the scars.
"Sofia" is a deeply heartfelt tribute that reveals more secrets of its detailed textures and meaningful melodies with each new spin.
There are treasures to be found by those who listen well and with care.