Saturday, October 13, 2007

In Review--Kiran Ahluwalia

Kiran Ahluwalia (Canada/India)
Time Square Records
On her previous debut recording, Canadian-Indian vocalist Kiran Ahluwalia introduced the world to the sensuality of traditional ghazals. Wanderlust reveals the vocalists expanding upon the traditional form, with an eye for globetrotting. She marries the heartfelt fados of Portugal, to soulful ghazals of South Asia, while adding flourishes of African percussion.

On the track, Teray Darsan Kiran's lush vocals are backed by light blues guitar and exotic beats. Kiran and her producer Rez Abbasi add more elements than on the previous recording, without harming the rich tableau of stories, or the South Asian atmosphere. The djembe, talking drum, Portuguese guitar, accordion, Portuguese bass and electric guitar, all seem to make a nice home for themselves here, embellishing stories about wisdom gained through love won and love lost.
However, it is Kiran's strength as a vocalist that take center stage on this CD. The other instruments such as the sarangi, harmonium, and instruments already mentioned simply acts as a whimsical backdrop for Kiran's sweet renderings. And each song that appears on this CD can be called a gem, each with a different color, different shade, and uniqueness--setting themselves apart from each other, but also flowing into a narrative of love.
I certainly do not wish to play favorites, but take a listen to the duets with Toronto-based qawwali singer Shahid Ali Khan (Meray Mathay and Jaag Na Jaag). Wanderlust is the quintessential world music album which takes gorgeous elements from various traditions and threads them through a South Asian tapestry that causes one's heart to sing with joy. And whose heart would not sing along with Kiran's transcendental vocals?