If your taste in music runs to lyrical and 'spacey' then the largely vocal tracks on Siri Kartar Kaur's new CD, "Grace of Guru Ram Das" will take you to a blessed and peaceful space. The entire album is sort of a theme and variations of the so-called "miracle mantra" "Guru Guru Wahe Guru, Guru Ram Das Guru." Siri Kartar's clear alto voice has a strong bel-canto vibrato and her singing is clearly heartfelt. Her musician friends Marcos Loya, Even Perlman, Frank Perry, Ram Das Kaur and Minu Kaur Singh support her work on keyboards, guitar, digeridoo, strings and percussion.
The album opens with a three minute spacy instrumental invocation that leads into a free-form 31 minute rendition of the mantra which was recorded live in the studio in a single take. It feels very much like a concert recording - in the moment and joyously participatory.
The third track, "Guru's Grace" is a clever adaptation of John Newton's 18th century Christian Hymn "Amazing Grace" with soulful choral singing of the mantra to the tune of the priginal hymn. "Ram Das Universe" is an almost 19 minute track dominated by didgeridoo and free-form vocalizations. Close your eyes and go with it. It'll take you out there, for sure.
The nine minute "Eternal Heart" is basically a solo from Siri Kartar backed mostly by ethereal harp and piano. The final 5 minute track is called "Conch Calling." It's a meditation guided by Siri Kartar's instructive narration designed for the listener to close their eyes and get deep into the sound current of the conch shell and the classical Indian style vocals of the mantra.
As musical meditations go, this CD definitely merges you into its sound current. I don't suggest listening to it whilst driving your car, but if you want to get spacey, it'll certainly do the job for you.
Says Siri Kartar Kaur, "This musical journey began as our devotion for Guru Ram Das, Beloved 16th century Indian Saint of great devotion, service & healing. The first chant was recorded straight through for 31 minutes and the effects are poetic. In that moment, the project shifted and effortlessly transformed into Guru Ram Das’s universal love and healing for all of us. As humanity seeks to balance our worldly walk, Guru Ram Das instills the waves of Grace - and all is possible The love and light of the cosmos are always reaching out to you."