Amit Heri’s “Jhoola: A World Music Yatra” – Music Review

jhoolanewIt was in 2004 that Amit Heri along with Manisharma came out with the mesmerizing musical Morning Raaga. While there has been a long hiatus thence, this year Amit Heri strikes for the second time (after the re-release of his 1998 jazz fusion album Elephant Walk, the review of which can be read here) with Jhoola – A World Music Yatra. Featuring folk music from various parts of the country, Jhoola is a veritable yatra panning the varied facets of Indian music.

Om Shakthi

The vocal rendition of Om Shakthi is quite raw, at times to the extent that it even sounds slightly out of pitch. But strangely enough the beauty of the song lies in that rawness, giving the Tamil devotional folk track a haunting touch. The instrumentation has been superb, the highlight being the guitar which blends well with the predominantly South Indian percussion. The segment towards the closure is especially briliant. Nice track to kick off the album.


The title song is a song about Lord Krishna, and is old school semiclassical stuff for most part, except for some modern percussion towards the latter half. The female singing is spot on.

Pirithi Jam

This song has a little bit of everything in it. Starting off on a catchy North Eastern (Assamese I am told) folk song with the South Indian veena for backing with a small bluesy guitar segment in between, the song suddenly switches gears to hindustani vocals on a rock-ish template. The folk portion then returns and then its konnakol time! While the scatting hots up we hear jazz in the background. For that matter bluesy elements make their appearances even at earlier stages of the song in short bursts on the guitar. And Amit gives a fitting end with some carnatic ad libbing on the distortion guitar, in what I felt was raag Abhogi.


Not much has been changed in this version of the renowned carnatic composition expect for the west-east mix in the instrumentation and the slightly westernised rendition of Krishna Hari Krishna in between. On the fusion front this adaptation doesn’t come out as great as the memorable version by the Colonial Cousins, but it is enjoyable nevertheless.

Hills of Grace

Amit Heri shows us a new way of looking at the Amazing Grace through this brilliant piece. Starting off with the guitar strumming raag Hamsadhwani, the vocals are quite fittingly backed by a minimal instrumentation featuring an unconventional inclusion of the South Indian ghatam.

The Bathing Devi

The folk song from the state of Uttarakhand which forms the core of this track if sung per se would have captured the interest of only the most esoteric of music lovers. But in a remarkable display of musical acumen Amit Heri brings in elements of South Indian and North Indian percussion, jazz, konnakol and other Western instrumentation which while maintaining the rusticness of the song make it a delightful experience.

Goa Gai Gai

A new look at the famous Goan folk song. This song however didn’t seem as impressive as the original song, with the tone of the song slightly altered, the bluesy orchestration working against the song this time.


The first half of the song is just mostly folk, with the North Eastern Muslim folk song being rendered to a westernized arrangement. Enter some Hindustani sargam and then another of those spellbounding jazz solos by Amit Heri. The humming appearing at the start and end of the song is nice.

Bago Rumba

A “cute” song if I were to express this North Eastern folk song in one word, due mainly to the female singer, who renders it in a childish manner. Amit doesn’t experiment a lot with the orchestration this time, sticking to flute and tabla for most parts, except for a fleeting stint of the ghatam followed by a brief jazz (was there a bit of carnatic too?) solo on guitar in between. A pleasant song thus ends the album.
Amit Heri makes the long wait for his new album worthwhile with an absolute treat for world music lovers. With Jhoola and the re-released Elephant Walk, there is enough to keep the music aficionados occupied for quite a few days to come!!
You can listen to all songs from the album on Amit Heri’s website. But after listening to the songs please please go buy the album!!The album shall be available in stores on May 13.

Amit Heri performing with Mandolin U. Shrinivas at Chennai

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