Manika Kaur will release her new album May 11. It’s called Sacred Words, and reveals the unique talents of Kaur. An exponent of the Kirtan tradition, Kaur channels the spiritual wisdom of Sikh founder Guru Nanak Dev ji via her enchanting vocal tones.
In 2013, Kaur released her debut album, Bandhanaa, with Bollywood icon Sukhbir Singh. Since then, Kaur has exploded onto the European World Music Charts, garnering over 10 million hits on YouTube.
Kaur not only thrills millions of listeners with her transcendent voice, she practices her beliefs in a very real and tangible manner: all funds from her music go to ‘Kirtan for Causes,’ which provides for the education of disadvantaged youths in rural Punjab, India. In addition, Kaur is a strong advocate of women’s rights, including equality and education.
Sacred Words comprises 10 tracks, and features Scottish folk musician James Yorkston (guitar/dulcimer), Jynotsna Srikanth (violin), and Tunde Jegede (kora).
Kaur’s sound merges elements of Indian tabla music and aromas of classical-pop, along with sophisticated and exotic polyrhythmic percussion. One of the best songs on the album is “Aval Allah,” a gently glimmering tune riding atop bubbling harmonics emphasizing the delicious tones of Kaur’s voice. Flowing strings add mystical dimension to the music, which emanates a potent pop essence.
“Ad Gurray Namay” rides tender expressive colors accented by darker strings. The tune carries hints of jazz/R&B flavors, gorgeous and drifting. “Fareeda Master” could be a quixotic, slow SoCal tune by the Eagles. Its charming flow and silky feel is tantalizingly beautiful, almost erotic, like divine foreplay.
“Nasaro Masoor” reminds me of Sade, with its smooth, pulsing nuances and trembling voluptuous ambience, like cool, austere sophisti-pop tinged with suave jazz hues. This tune, along with “Kabir Tu,” make up my favorites on the album, simply because of their nuanced textured energy, glossy with velvet timbres.
Sacred Words is sublimely yummy, blending numinous tabla music with the honeyed flavors of pop, dream-pop, and blushing jazz. Manika Kaur’s voice is a confection of pure elegance, which, in combination with the pervasive liquescent mood and feel of the music, makes for a scrumptious listening experience.
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