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Jaya Lakshmi: all vocals, 12-string and nylon string guitar, harmonium, musical arrangements
Deva Priyo: Spanish guitar, sarod
Vince McClellan: bansuri, Native American and celtic flutes
NIsha Calkin-Godfrey: cello
Bobby Cochran: electric guitar, keyboards, programming
Music and English lyrics by Jaya Lakshmi
Produced by Steve Gordon and Jaya Lakshmi
Additional production and programming by Bobby Cochran
Mixed, engineered and mastered by Bobby Cochran
Mastering consulting by David and Steve Gordon
New Age Retailer
Jaya Lakshmi's latest album blends her heavenly vocals (mantras, as well as English lyrics on some of the songs) with her superb music, featuring Spanish, Celtic, and New Age influences. Joining Lakshmi on the album are Deva Priyo playing sarod and Spanish guitar, Vince McClellan on assorted flutes, Nisha Calkin-Godfrey on cello, and Bobby Cochran playing guitar and keyboards. Lakshmi's hauntingly beautiful voice will hold the listener spellbound, whether she is chanting or singing her self-penned English lyrics. Easily one of the most accessible chant albums I've ever heard, Radiance is both joyous and serene.
— Bill Binkelman
Music Design In Review
Sweetness, serenity and spirituality are the key ingredients in the music of Jaya Lakshmi. Her chanting is very organic, and blends perfectly with the uplifting melodies her music often encompasses. RADIANCE, the Steve Gordon produced follow-up to Lakshmi's top-selling album SUBLIME, lives up to the luminescent suggestions of its title, bathing the listener in peaceful, compassionate music with an abundance of heart and soul. This time around, she opts for a very textured sound that bears a multi-cultural edge. Former Lost at Last bandmate Deva Priyo brings his Spanish guitar (and sarod) skills to the table, which imparts the music with a subtle Mediterranean flavor. Vince McClellan's Native, Celtic and bansuri flute playing likewise adds color to the mix, as does the cello playing of Nishya Calkin-Godfrey. The result is another beautiful release from Lakshmi that continues show her glorious vocal skills.
On Radiance Hawaiian-born kirtan singer Jaya Lakshmi works with a group of musicians centered loosely around producer Steve Gordon (Sequoia Records) and band mates from her old world-music collective Lost at Last, including her longtime collaborator Deva Priyo, who adds world touches via his classical guitar and sarod. The vibe for this outing expands and divides the difference between Priyo's ethereal Middle Eastern flavors and the clear, golden-hued voice of Lakshmi, which imbue everything with Northern soul and grace to spare. You can put this on the car radio and unless someone bothers to notice that the words to most of the songs are in Sanskrit, they won't have a clue that it's not just some sweet-natured FM-radio adult alternative-rock. Meanwhile a quiet joy and reverent love for all aspects of life and people will quietly manifest within them. Lakshmi lives up to the album's name, and playing the music spreads the glow.
Some tracks get deep into the flow of world spirituality, like "Giridhari," which follows a smoldering, Gypsy-dance beat with dazzling classical guitar, sitar, and sampled hand claps. Lakshmi sings the lead chant in a healing, absolving embrace that rides over it all, an angel passing over a thriving Marrakesh market. The slow and ominous "Shiva Maheshwara" opens slowly on just a coiling tamboura and the insistent longing, slightly echoing voice of Lakshmi, calling the faithful forward with love and solemnity, and joined by the mournful cello of Nishya Calkin-Godfrey.
Good as the album is, Lakshmi's voice is especially affecting when focusing on a simple phrase presented in a basic, straightforward, unadorned, achingly beautiful style. A jewel this lustrous requires no elaborate setting; you can hear the sound of light itself and forgiveness in Lakshmi's voice, as on the beautiful "Sita Ram." As it progresses the instruments slowly join in and she even includes a translation in English: "All I have is the shelter of your holy name / Nothing else fills my soul / Not even wealth or fame." Such a surrender to not be moved by, her blissful sense of surrender is infectious. Lakshmi brings you the message that will allow you to resume opening your heart, even when you have the urge to close it tight against the storm. With the simple sound of her voice, her expression of selfless love, she can move something greater than mountains. For Radiance Lakshmi sings the way the sun spreads light, evenly and absolving all the ears she touches.
Steve Ryals, Music Columnist
I first became acquainted with Jaya Lakshmi's exquisite voice a number of years ago, when she was the lead singer for Lost at Last, a high-energy techno-tribal group that sadly did not stay together for long. Lakshmi sings like an ethereal angel, transmitting the unconditional love that animates the entire universe straight from her vast heart to our weary ears. On Radiance, her fourth release on Sequoia Records, once again produced by Steve Gordon, Lakshmi takes a more meditative, acoustic path, offering a lush tapestry of original songs. Artfully combining Celtic flute, cello, Spanish guitar and soaring vocals, Radiance is an outstanding choice for yoga, massage and other healing modalities.
In addition to her angelic voice, Lakshmi plays both 12 string and nylon string guitar along with the harmonium. Deva Priyo, who also played with Lost at Last, has a magical touch on Spanish guitar as well as the Sarod. Vince McClellan contributes Bansuri, Native American and Celtic flutes. Nisha Calkin-Godfrey plays cello with a haunting, luminous grace. Bobby Cochran, featured last month with his new CD Translucent, plays electric guitar, keyboards and handles the programming. Cochran also mixed, engineered and mastered the entire album. Several tracks, including "Om Tara," "Om Purnam," "Sita Ram" and "Gurudeva Bol" are traditional Sanskrit mantras set to Lakshmi's delightful compositions. (Click on the CD cover to go to the page with streaming song samples or to purchase.)
One of the surprises on Radiance is a Lakshmi actually sings some of these Sanskrit lyrics in English, affording Sanskrit fluent persons such as myself a terrific opportunity to understand more fully the deeply spiritual meaning of these ancient mantras. On "Sita Ram," for example, the trancelike quality of the lyrics, including "All I have is the shelter of your holy name, nothing else soothes my soul not even wealth or fame," contributes to an atmosphere transcendentally suited to connecting with the One Heart. For Jaya Lakshmi fans as well as for all those who find contemporary arrangements of ancient Sanskrit mantras to be soothing as well as uplifting, Radiance is a precious jewel indeed.
Oregon's Jaya Lakshmi's effervescent, yet relaxing, music for the human spirit is a very moving exploration of inner peace, beauty, and transcendence. Each song is unique and incorporates Jaya's serene vocals. The addition of the Celtic flute, Spanish guitar, sarod, cello, keyboards, Bansuri flute, and other elements make Radiance a truly enjoyable listening experience.
The instrumental interludes and segues provides an added, therapeutic sensation. The tranquil, yet melodious musical structures, is perfect for yoga, relaxing, or a world music party. "Sita Ram" is a particularly beautiful and catchy tune that should not be missed. The music does not fit any one category of world music, but it draws upon Central and South Asian musical traditions, while infusing vocal arrangements similar to contemporary bands from Scandinavia, and even a slight nod to the band Enigma.
In summary, Jaya's Radiance shines beyond borders. Produced by Steve Gordon, features top-notch global guest artists and is very acoustic, intimate and serene. Jaya is joined by Deva Priyo (Lost at Last) on Spanish guitar and sarod, Vince McClellan on bansuri, Native American and Celtic flutes and Nishya Calkin-Godfrey on cello. Lakshmi's song writing on Radiance is her best yet, with many beautiful melodies that will leave you with a tranquil glow. Lakshmi sings with the deep inner peace that comes from many years of leading kirtans in yoga studios and concerts throughout the country. Refresh your spirit - relax and nourish your soul with soothing mantra music that has a Celtic folk flavor.
Jaya Lakshmi began leading kirtan and writing her own devotional songs in the early 1990′s. She went on to create 4 solo
chant albums and became the lead singer of the tribal-trance band Lost at Last (West Coast USA, 1997-2004). In 2010 she joined forces with Ananda Yogiji. In just over 6 years, they have released 11 mantra albums and have toured extensively throughout the western USA....more