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32-page lyric booklet will be provided with CD in print or with digital download via digital file
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.
This recording is offered at the feet of my Guru, Sri Neem Karoli Baba, the In-Dwelling Presence and his disciple Sri Siddhi Ma ~ My refuge in the storm of life.
I want to thank all the folks who pledged the crowd-funding campaign that allowed us to record this CD the way we wanted to and made it possible for us manufacture and distribute it in the best down–home way that we could. The response to the campaign was so wonderful and loving and generous…it totally blasted my heart open with thankfulness.
Thanks also go to ~
Krishna Das – vocals and harmonium
Janaki Kagel – vocals on track (2) Sri Argala Stotram (Selected Verses) / Show Me Love and track (6) Tara's Mantra
Jenni Muldaur – vocals on (2) Sri Argala Stotram (Selected Verses) / Show Me Love and track (8) I Phoned Govinda
Boris Grebenschikov vocals on track (4) Saraswati
David Nichtern – guitars
Mark Egan – bass
Arjun Bruggeman – tabla, naal
Matt Kilmer – percussion
Nina Rao – kartals
Genevieve Walker – violin
Yaitza Jaya Sita Lopez - cello
Kevin Bents – keyboards
Steve Gorn – bansuri, clarinet
Kosmic Kirtan Posse – choir vocals
Adam Keller, Adrienne Jamiel, Ambika Cooper, Amy Dewhurst, Ana Ban, Archit Dave, Bela Motwani, Bill Strauss, Bodhi Zephyr Reilly, Derek Alberti, Devadas Labrecque, Duncan Haile, Janaki Kagel, Jeremy Frindel, Jerry Scarnato, Julia Murphy, Keith Villanueva, Kevin Reilly, Kirtan Soul Revival, Kurt Lindsey, Lalita Lynn Taylor, Leslie Graves, Lila Cooper, Lily Frindel, Marie Maybury, Marsha Bennett, Mary Ellen Ross, Matt Thomas, Michael Fantin, Nandini Sharma, Nina Rao, Noah Baumwoll, Pamela Barr, Paulette Ciotti, Raghu Naik, Robin Renee, Ruben Giron, Sarah Sarada Strickman, Sarina Rao, Satya Franche Carlson-Strauss, Shaina Leslie, Sharada Kagel, Shyama Chapin, Terrence Pompey, Tom Cucinotta, Uma Rao-Labrecque.
Produced by David Nichtern
Recorded and Mixed by Jay Messina
Mastered by Greg Calbi, Sterling Sound, New York City, USA
Recorded at Avatar Studios and MSR Studios, New York City, USA
All songs published by Mustamullah Music (BMI)
Except Sri Argala Stotram (Selected Verses) / Show Me Love – this composition embodies portions of "I Wanna Know What Love Is" written by Michael L. Jones, published by Somerset Songs Publishing, Inc.
Except Saraswati written by Boris Grebenschikov, published by Mustamullah Music
© 2014 Krishna Das Music, Inc.
ⓟ 2014 Mustamullah Music BMI