Natacha Atlas has never lacked ambition and desire in her music, and there are times here where she seems to be trying to channel the spirit of the great Egyptian singer Oum Kalthoum. The strings sweep along and are twists that keep it from being a straightforward Egyptian album, such as the addition of piano that crops up so often, or the programming on "Batkallim" (actually the CD's most ambitious track, as it fuses Middle Eastern culture with the 21st century quite successfully). One of the cover versions doesn't fare as well as the original material (or as well as the version of Francoise Hardy's "La Nuit Sur la Ville," which drops easily into place); her take on Nick Drake's "River Man" is simply too mannered, adding vocals details that detract from the pastoral evening atmosphere of the song. Whether the sampled speaking voices that keep cropping up between tracks are necessary is debatable, too. Cut away those parts, however, and the remainder gives further proof that Atlas is certainly becoming the Egyptian diva for the Western market. The arrangements are superbly lush and the singing keeps getting better and better.