(4 / 5)
I recall a certain famous radio and TV presenter who really knows his music, jumping down my throat during an interview, when I used the term “World Music”.
“Do you know what, Simon. I bloody hate that label. World Music. It’s all bloody World Music, isn’t it? Why do we have to label it World Music if the musicians happen to come from Africa, Brazil or some other far-off land? It’s music. From the world. Bloody World Music…..”
I got his point! But it stuck with me and from then on, I rarely use that label in my writing. However, on the press blurb with this album from Anglo-Indian Unnati Dasgupta, or Unnati if we use her professional name, it clearly labels her debut album “World Music”.
So we can be forgiven if we all agree, that is what it is. But actually, it is far more than that. “Indigo Soul” sits on a core base of Indian ragas – the melodic foundation of Indian classical music – but the London artist delivers a very interesting fusion of Indian classical, spiritul, pop and jazz. Mixing Sufi with jazz, Bhajan with pop, Gujarati folk with pop and Rajasthani folk with acoustic jazz vibes.
From the off, and the infectious opening track “Teri Yaad Aati Hain”, the first single from the album, we are in the presence of class and quality. Whatever label you place on it.
Talking of class and quality, Unnati is from legendary Indian music stock. The eldest of two daughters, Unnati grew up in Finchley, North London, in a house busy with visitors including famous artists and students of her father Nitai Dasgupta, the late iconic singer of Indian classical music royalty. Sitar legend Ravi Shakar was a close friend of her father’s.
Nitai was a pioneer, performer, teacher and recording artist among the first to bring Indian classical music to Britain.
Taking the musical legacy of her father and tailoring the traditional with her own contemporary slant, the British-born singer, composer and musician has been working live for some time – in Soho jazz clubs, the Royal Albert Hall, Glastonbury, and on the main stage at the famed WOMAD festival.
Recently Unnati sang “Raghupati Raaghav” from the Film Gandhi, at Westminster Abbey for Sir Richard Attenborough’s memorial service.
She was coached vocally by her father from a young age in Indian Classical vocal, Bhajan, Ghazal and film songs. Unnati also learned Classical dance like Kathak and Bharatnatyam, and she learned to play many instruments, including piano, violin, harmonium, tabla and guitar.
“Indigo Soul” is named after the colour of the ajana ‘third eye’ chakra. The site of intuition and generator of creativity. The version of the album I have features eight tracks, but I understand there is a 10-track version too.
It includes the former single “Ye Raatein Apni Hain”, a Hindi pop ballad that features jangly guitars, propulsive kit drums and promises of love – mostly unrequited. Produced by Diamond Duggal, who has previously worked with the likes of Shania Twain.
Other producers and musicians to appear across the record include Xan Blacq (Amy Winehouse), Gordon Hulbert (Anastacia, Alison Limerick), and the Budapest Film Orchestra, contributing to the musical and cultural fusion.
Best cut here for me is “Teri Yaad Aati Hain (I Remember You)”, a track selected by DJ Ravin to feature on Buddha Bar’s Ultimate Collection, part of an internationally acclaimed series of compilation albums.
The track with an ear-worm hook, unfurls over gently rhythmic tabla and deftly woven guitars, keyboards, bass, and drums programmed by Diamond Duggal. Unnati’s alluring vocal is buoyed by a male vocalist, in the same way that a male Sufi chorus will provide backing vocals to a soloist. The lyrics are ambiguous, laced with longing, addressed to a beloved.
A gifted artist offering an enticing full length debut release that shows great promise for good things to come, from a musician and songwriter with the world at her feet, based on this little gem.
By Simon Redley
(2 / 5) ‘OK Zone’
(3 / 5) ‘Decent Zone’
(4 / 5) ‘Super Zone’
(5 / 5) ‘Awesome Zone’