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Kirtan Wallah


Artist:
Krishna Das
$16.19
$17.99 (You save $1.80)
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    TRACKS Radhe Govinda 9:57
    Sri Argala Stotram (Selected Verses) / Show Me Love 12:16
    Waltzing My Krishna 11:54
    Saraswati 7:05
    4AM Hanuman Chalisa 9:38
    Tara's Mantra 8:01
    Sri Bajrang Baan 7:02
    I Phoned Govinda 7:52
    Total Run Time 1:13:56 There has always been a recognizable quality in the music of Krishna Das, a not-so-secret secret that the mantras, names, and prayers that he is so deeply established in, adopted during his years in India, have a deep undercurrent of Western familiarity. His voice reminds one of Johnny Cash or Leonard Cohen, his melodies, even his re-workings of traditional chants or prayers, seamlessly borrow from American blues and folkand comfortably reference gospel classics like "Amazing Grace" and "Jesus On The Mainline". His music effortlessly captures the spirit of both East and West, the kirtan wallah of India and the wayfaring stranger of America. With the release of his 14th album, Kirtan Wallah—one who sings kirtan, KD offers a westward-leaning album, fully embracing his American roots in rock and country and yet embodying the spirit of deeply devotional Indian chants. There are some traditional melodies for sure—the opening Radhe Govinda chant sounds as though it would be right at home in a temple, his rich baritone voice and harmonium leading the response. But at its heart, this album is a natural confluence of KD's musical streams, bansuri flute weaving its way through acoustic guitars and country swing, and tabla and kartals underscoring melodies that would fit well in the Townes Van Zandt catalog. The album's defining statement might just come during the second track, "Sri Argala Stotram (Selected Verses) / Show Me Love". The track itself is musically a marriage of opposites, a mash-up of the traditional Argala Stotram, a prayer to the Goddess taken from the Durga Saptashati, and Foreigner's mid-80's power-ballad, "I Want To Know What Love Is". Opening in quiet austerity, KD, joined initially on the choruses by his daughter Janaki, offers a haunting lead vocal. Then the arrangement swells around the pair, building until the chorus "Roopam dehi, jayam dehi, yaso dehi, dwisho jahi" is intersected by the chorus of the Foreigner classic. The effect is staggering, the context remarkable. All the more remarkable is that this fusion has simply tumbled out naturally from KD's years of chanting to the chords of his heart, effortlessly pulling worlds together, drawing a heart-connection between Bengali kirtan & rock, between the Kumaon Hills and Nashville. The album is filled with such treasures. Perhaps the sweetest track is Saraswati, a chant written by Russian pop icon, Boris Grebenschikov, complete with acoustic guitars reminiscent of the Stones' Exile on Main Street and deep backing vocals offered by the Grebenschikov himself. The song is an introspective masterpiece, recalling KD's work with Rick Rubin on Door of Faith. "I Phoned Govinda" and "4AM Hanuman Chalisa" are explorations in classic Nashville country. KD describes how in the midst of recording the album, he awoke one morning at 4AM singing a new chant; he grabbed his phone, recorded it, and went back to sleep. Later that morning he went back to listen to the voice memo and found what he called "4AM Hanuman Chalisa", which was recorded that very day in the studio! "Tara's Mantra", a Buddhist prayer calling on the feminine form of Compassion, is exquisite, KD's heartfelt vocals underpinned by a classic country waltz and entwined by evocative bansuri flute. While it's certainly noteworthy that as he evolves as a kirtan wallah, KD continues to move closer to his Western roots, the heart of this latest album is still in the Names that he's singing. Kirtan is the spiritual practice of calling out to the Self through these Divine Names, and the depth of KD's devotion to this practice is revealed in his singing. It shines like light from the windows of a beloved home, and beyond musical styles and influences, welcomes each of us into our own heart. His voice is our voice. His devotion is our devotion. His journey is our own.

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    SKU: 3081

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