Aladean Kheroufi’s name may not yet be well known, but his musical versatility speaks for itself. Since graduating high school in his hometown of Edmonton, Alberta—where he proudly filmed his latest video at a beloved pizza joint—the Algerian-Canadian multi-instrumentalist has become an in-demand session player with skills on the bass, keys, violin, trumpet, tuba, and vibraphone. Along with joining other rising artists such as Wares, Marlaena Moore, and neo-country crooner Bobby Tenderloin (on his recent tour with Orville Peck), Kheroufi has learned from the best with production projects at the Daptone House of Soul.
Kheroufi’s new EP, Beauty Beyond Grief, shows off his effortlessly silky touch on a collection of retro soul covers. It’s clear that he knows his history, with selections like Arthur Conley’s 1969 hit “Take A Step (In My Direction),” but he’s also unafraid to take on a stone cold classic. Transgender icon Jackie Shane earned belated recognition in 2017 with her song “Any Other Way,” celebrated as the title track of a Numero Group box set of her work. In Kheroufi’s hands, the brassy sway of the original is replaced with a dreamy minimalism, guided by rhythmbox percussion that sounds closer in spirit to Timmy Thomas. Yet no matter what style of music propels them, the sting of its lyrics directed to a former partner remain: “Tell her that I’m happy/ Tell her that I’m gay/ Tell her I wouldn’t have it/ Any other way.”