The album’s only film song cover (has been a staple with each of Naveen Kumar’s albums barring the last one) is that of A R Rahman’s Netru Illaadha Maatram from the 1993 film Pudhiya Mugam, a song that won singer Sujatha a state award. Naveen does a stirring flute rendition of the original vocal portions, setting it to a pleasant arrangement of his own led by Stephen Devassy’s piano and the soft choral portions by the Shillong Chamber Choir. The dholak towards the end dilutes the effect a bit, but the song works well all the same. Composer adopts the Hindustani style for his leisurely sparring (on the “Naveen flute”, a modified string flute) with the Grammy award winning mohan veena maestro Pt. Vishwa Mohan Bhatt in the title song – tabla exponent Ojas Adhiya and drummer Sivamani providing the percussive backdrop – one that expectedly builds up towards a fine crescendo. Even as Rimi Nique’s gentle humming provides that poignant touch to Journey of Truth, the first half of the song is ruled by Stephen Devassy on the piano. Stephen moves to the background in the second half though, Naveen taking the lead with a brilliantly executed solo partly based in shanmukhapriya. Naveen, Ojas and Stephen up the intensity to an outstanding level in the last minute and a half, making it the best segment of the song.
Vladimir Vavilov’s oft-recorded Ave Maria gets an ambient, world music-y makeover in Silence is Bliss, in the track called Like a Prayer. Naveen’s own self-designed flutes and the humming by Joann Fernandez and Naveen’s children Jean Naveen (who also sang a song in his last) and Rahael Naveena rule the roost, while Sivamani and Taku Hirano’s percussion stand out in the background. Song of Praise is another Hindustani-flavoured piece, one that has Naveen doing a musical equivalent of a stroll in the park, with Ojas Adhiya in tow. Another Western classical piece gets adapted in Lovely Moon, this time Bellini’s opera Vaga Luna. The song starts off on that classical note, Shillong Chamber Choir’s leading lady Ibarisha Lyngdoh handling the vocals brilliantly in her solo that lasts over a minute, before Naveen takes over with a very foot-tapping folk rendition. Final song of the album is called Shillong Harvest, understandably based on North East folk music. The composer however adds Western layers to that folk base – harmonies, Rimi Nique’s English verse et al. Not everything works well, but and engaging song nevertheless.
Silence is Bliss. Naveen Kumar’s fourth outing features a (mostly) new set of collaborators, and the result is another winsome album.
Top Recos: Journey of Truth, Netru Illaadha Maatram, Silence is Bliss, Lovely Moon