Azam Ali is one of those artists that transcends the title of singer to that of a true vocal goddess. Her culturally rich background serves as the backbone on which her unique and hypnotizing sound is built. Born in Iran, raised in India, and moved to America in her teen years, Ali’s music is a reflection of her life’s journey. Her highly adaptable voice has been featured on countless collaborations in the alternative and new age music scenes, as well as in movies, video games, and TV. Most known for being one half of Niyaz, Ali’s solo career certainly stands on its own two feet. Her latest release, Phantoms is a collection of atmospheric songs rife with a sense of longing and beautiful melancholy. It took four years to complete because of her heavy touring schedule with Niyaz, but her desire to create and love for the craft made her persist. As to be expected, the focal instrument on this album is Ali’s voice – the layered breathiness of her melodies creates a very cinematic soundscape, and every sound on this album serves a purpose. It’s minimal and restrained yet does not lack depth. The opening track, “Hope” is doused in ‘90s new age influence without sounding recycled or dated whatsoever. The combination of the understated synthesizers and soft, steady beat serves as a solid platform that showcases Ali’s beautiful understanding of melody and harmony. Drenched in reverb but not muddied, the mix sounds extremely clean and inviting. The strings on “Tender Violet” add to the overall melancholic tone of the album as the song uses traditional cues and combines them with modern elements, making it feel like a dream. “Shallow Then Halo” gets creative with the sound design, creating an element of morose darkness while still maintaining a sense of rich minimalism. Overall, Azam Ali’s music is atmospheric and moody, cinematic and emotional, yet it can still appeal to a vast audience. Her entrancing voice and ability to create a world all her own is certain to win over the hearts of a wide array of music lovers.