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Album Review: Anoushka Shankar – Traces Of You

3 min read

Today’s modern music scene is filled with rock bands, pop stars and rappers. So where does a sitar player fit in the scheme of things? Anoushka Shankar has been fusing her deeply Indian rooted worldly music with the genres such as Western classical music, flamenco and electronica, since her debut album Anoushka from 1998, and now the sitar sensation is back with her seventh studio album Traces Of You, which experiments with Jazz style.

Anoushka Shankar Traces of YouThe 13-track album is just what we’d expect from the talented lady of 32. Just in case it needs to be clarified, a sitar is a plucked stringed instrument and usually has either 18, 19 or 20 strings. Learning under her famous composer father Riva Shankar since the age of nine, Anoushka has blown the world away with her own take on the classical Indian instrument.

From being named Woman of the Year in 2003, being nominated for  two grammys for Live At Carnage Hall and Rise  in the category of world music and winning Best Artist in the Songlines Music Award in 2012, the amazing composer has successfully brought the sounds of India into the mainstream.

Collaborating with jazz-singer/songwriter Norah Jones, Traces Of You is an album for anyone looking for a new musical perspective. From beginning to end the album acts an entire experience of its own. You’re taken to different worlds, journeying through the intricate movements of the sitar and floating off in time with the beating drum.

The album welcomes you in with The Sun Won’t Set, featuring Norah Jones. A relaxing atmosphere is instantly created and is carried out throughout the rest of the album. The soft vocals of Jones moulds together with Shankar’s accompaniment providing such an intimate setting that it feels like you’re in the same room as the jazz and sitar player.

There’s a good mix of experimental work and traditional compositions in Traces of You that really makes it tick. From the peaceful tones in Flight, Maya and Fathers, to hints of electronica in Metamorphosis and even folk in River Pulse, there’s a bit of everything in Shankar’s new music. After seven albums, the artist is continually growing and it feel like an honour being able to listen to her music.

Some stand out tracks that I will gladly add to my mix of punk songs and 80s ballads, are Indian Summer, Traces Of You and Unseen. Flamenco is a predominant style in Shankar’s work, but the way she has the piano play along with the sitar is just magnificent in this track. I’ve never listened to the sitar and a piano before and the song has really opened my eyes to a the endless possibilities of music.

Norah Jones is featured for the second time in the track Traces Of You. Being the most recent single off the album, it’s obvious why such a track was chosen to represent the album. Traces Of You is a great representation of Shankar’s music prowess, both in performance and composition. The way Jones’ voice floats perfectly on top of the swaying movements of the sitar feels so uplifting and optimistic.

The album ends with Unsaid and we hear again the arrangement of piano against sitar, but this time also combined with Jones’ sweet voice. A sombre mood is spread throughout the piece as the simplicity of the piano and echoing of the sitar sets up the melancholy melody of Jones’ vocal work. The emotional strain of the song seems to just pour out, over-flowing and leaving the listener with a heavy heart carrying the track’s burden.

Anoushka Shankar has definitely out-done herself with this album. Currently touring the UK, the talented woman has much success ahead of her. Traces Of You is a refreshing album, and while it’s the seventh one coming, Shankar continues to amaze her listeners and has definitely gained a fan in me.

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