I have always been an admirer of versatility in artists. I suppose this has become apparent from so many of my blogs/postings, but I do feel the need to reiterate it from time to time. When an artist is able to run the gambit between popular, spiritual, and pedagogical styles it tends to catch my ear. This is the opinion I've formed regarding the second available album of Meena Batish, titled “Lishkare: Punjabi Songs,” as the work is quite a departure from her 2007 album “My Favorite Bhajans.”
“Lishkare” is upbeat with several pop-sensitive elements. The electronic drums and guitar strumming gives a mixed flavor to Meena’s distinctively North Indian vocal style. In tracks such as “Sajana” (No. 3) there are times when the swung rhythms, so common in music from Punjab, sound almost reggae-ish. Of course, everything is masterfully tied together through the virtuosic sitar playing of Ashwin Batish (the arranger and producer of the album).
The album is full of fun and upbeat numbers. The first track “Yes, No, Alright” is a lighthearted and charmingly uplifting take on contemporary North Indian popular music. It is jazzy with fast brass and a vocal melody that sticks with you after the song is finished. The quirky insertions of a man’s voice saying “yes,” “no,” and “alright” might put some off – but it was something I really enjoyed. As an English speaker, it seemed to invite me in to be part of the dialogue of the song, even though I don’t speak the language.
Other gems exist on “Lishkare.” Track number 4 “Mavan Te Dhiyan Di Dosti” has one of the most lovely and simple arrangements of the album. The slow, but very present drums allow Meena’s voice to shine and do what it does best (deliver stunning melodies). While track number 8 “Pani Nalon Ho Gae Patale” features lush and sweeping piano that doesn't detract one bit from the singing.
“Lishkare” is an extremely well thought out album both in terms of composition and diversity. It is vitally alive in the energy that comes through the recording and enjoyable from the first song to the last. Though I can’t say it is an album for everyone, I can say that everyone should give it a chance (maybe 2 or 3 chances) to take you in. For my part, I can honestly say that have enjoyed my copy thoroughly.
"Likshare" is available on iTunes and Amazon.com