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An intriguing album mixing traditional and contemporary music, The Road to Baghdad makes an attempt to present the many facets of Iraqi music, old and new. The album makes use of traditional maqamat primarily, but in the contemporary compositions created by Ahmed Mukhtar, the normal aesthetics of Arabic music are occasionally put aside in favor of something different. In "Iraqi Café," the sound is almost Hindustani. In "Childhood," the sound is lilting and almost European. In the title track, there are elements of flamenco guitar in Mukhtar's oud playing. Throughout the album, Mukhtar's oud playing is exceptional. His ear for a nice composition makes Road to Baghdad a particularly nice collection of songs. This isn't your usual traditional set of maqamat and Kurdish dance fare (though those are certainly present). There's more here to hear, and it's worth a listen for those entrenched in the usual Middle Eastern instrumental systems.