Cleopatra Records [Release date 26.06.20]
When you have heavyweights such as Chester Thompson and Tony Levin featuring prominently in the credits you expect that the album in front of you may be of a certain standard, or at least a little bit fusion-ey.
L. Shankar collaborated with the likes of Frank Zappa, Bruce Springsteen and Madonna so he’s no career slouch either and he fronts the proceedings on violin and vocals.
Opener ‘In My Heart’ defys expectation because it’s quite infectious and a natural “single” with Jonathan Davis from Korn on additional vocals together with Scott Page (sax) from Supertramp and Pink Floyd. There’s no eastern influence other than the mantra-like rhythmic pulse which reminds a little of ‘In The Air Tonight’ but without the bombast.
‘Faith’ and ‘Suppose’ continue the fine grooves whilst ‘Spreading All Over’ introduces the expected eastern flavours but the rhythm similar to ‘Lily Was Here’.
‘Knowing You’ is an attractive love song even if the lyrics are somewhat repetitive and simple. But that’s half the appeal of the album as a whole. It’s all in the groove.
The groove is only broken by the title track which is a sincere if largely unlistenable paean to the temple where Shankar lived during a major flood disaster. The instrumentals ‘New World’ and ‘Emotions’ on the other hand reflect Shankar’s numerous soundtrack works.
Aside from these diversions, the album is a pleasant surprise. Having expected esoteric Mahavishnu meanderings from a legendary septuagenerian (he formed Shakti with John McLaughlin) we are surprised to hear more accessible even funky tunes. In uncertain times music to raise the spirits, certainly. ***1/2
Review by David Randall
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