Attuned Spirits – Vasuda Sharma (Fusion Album): Review

Attuned Spirit CD-3You can listen to the album here.

Jaagi Jaagi Raina – The song I fell in love with from the time the studio version went up on youtube about a year back, and still remains my top favorite among the 11 after the richer sounding album version. Vasuda Sharma deftly layers everything from the violins to guitars (mandolin too I think) to drums to keys to sax to the bass (Rushad Mistry) in a fantabulous classical fusion piece. And the lady gets behind the mic herself (as she does for all songs of the album) to pull off a finely nuanced rendition of the jog raag-based melody.

Maajhi (Go with the flow) – Vasuda’s musical plea to people to take a chill pill once again follows the classical-jazz fusion route, the former being provided by the strings while the keys supply the latter. The classical side displays shades of jog (which is one of her favorite ragas, she told me) here too in places. The apparent ease with which Vasuda straddles the Indian and Western styles in her singing helps her pull off the vocals here in style.

Giridhar – In her mod take on the Meera bhajan (most famously sung by Geeta Dutt in the 1950 movie Jogan) Vasuda once again makes good use of the immense talent at her disposal, particularly the sax and guitars – both have some fabulous solos in the song.

Barsan Laage Nain – The composer gets her Aasma bandmate Sangeet Haldipur to play keys for her in this one, and he kicks off the song with a jazz-based solo. And then the song comes, another classical-flavored (loosely brindavana saranga raga based) piece that features some interesting time signatures. In an otherwise westernized orchestration, the tabla is the only one complying with the classical base (Sanket Naik, I would presume). Like she did in Jaagi Jaagi Raina, the lady builds the song towards a crescendo-esque instrumental overdrive in the last one minute with a short but neat sargam bit.

Laagi Lagan – A mellow song for a change, although once again elaborate in its arrangement. This time it is the keys and the violin that stand out – the violin in particular with lovely solos ranging from classical (this song has a hamsadhwani base) to Arabic (or Klezmer?). Vasuda’s singing occasionally brought back memories of Batiyan from her own B-Town debut in 2010, Shahrukh Bola Khoobsurat Hai Tu.

Calling Out To You – The breezy pop melody is handled well by Vasuda yet again, Hinglish lyrics and all. The strings are the highlight here (loved the cello) even as the keys section pitches in with some jazz improvs.

Maula – Vasuda strings together some of her favorite Kabir dohas in a sinister, pulsating mix of Arabic and rock elements. Curious sounds that abound in the arrangement, most notably the outlandish use of violin, add to the dark feel. The last third of the song is taken up by an extended instrumental bit that is led by the synth, bass and drums. Not a song you might revisit often, but the quality of arrangement is once again top notch.

Dhola – There is something very Carnatic about the way the violin that starts off this song; it is played by Sharat Chandra Srivastava of Mrigya by the way. The song is other Rajasthani folk based though, and in keeping true to the genre the composer includes a lot of folk percussion and goes easy on the other elements. Folk songs seldom fail, this one doesn’t either. Sharat is the star of the song however, with some beautiful rendition all along the way (madhmadh saarang raga, my guess).

Keep The Faith – Vasuda returns to the sinister, rock mode in this (quite contrary to the positive note suggested by the title!) – expectedly keeping it high on guitars and drums. On the synth is another guest artist, the Blue Frog man Shadaab Kadri. And like in Maula, this one too features some intriguing violin phrases.

Cruel World – The album movies out of fusion territory in the last two songs. And the guest artist she brings to this song, Dhruv Ghanekar, does truly rule this song with some scintillating guitar playing. Vasuda also employs the vocal harmonies to good effect here, but the tune as such lacks the spunk to do justice to such effects.

Never Lose Heart – The bonus track. The motivational lyrics are handled with a matching positivity in the tune as well (that magical four chords base that never fails!). The dainty arrangement is led by Karan Joseph’s keyboard shenanigans and Ghanekar’s ukulele (I think I heard an upright bass also). Nice happy ending to a well done set of songs!

Attuned Spirits. Vasuda Sharma delivers all that she promised in her crowdsourcing pitch video – a lot of Hindi music and folk-shlok-ragas with a Western twist, a brilliantly executed collaboration of world musicians, and she definitely does not let you down. This is one kickass solo debut from the singer-songwriter!

Top Recos: Just go buy the whole album here, it is totally worth the 100 rupees you will pay for it!

PS: Since there are multiple artists playing the same instrument in more cases than one, I have not given songwise credits to the instrumentalists every time. Instead below is the list of all artists who played in the album.

Attuned Spirit Artist Credits 1

 

Attuned Spirit CD-4

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Vipin says:

Yes please do.

Prashant says:

Cool stuff,man..Musicians like these need the support.Lets spread the word.I will.

Vipin says:

Thanks man. And glad you bought it. Vasuda is one deserving musician. I was one of the crowd-funders for the project too. :)

Prashant says:

Bought Laagi Lagan,Maajhi & Maula @oklisten..the last one being my ‘on loop’ track among these 3.#Jaagi jaagi Raina is the best of the lot.Since this was up for free download,didnt bother to download it.:)

Again,kickass review,mate.Cheers.