Traces Of You

Anoushka Shankar

Deutsche Grammophon Records, 2013

http://www.anoushkashankar.com

REVIEW BY: Tom Haugen

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 12/31/2013

In a lot of ways, Anoushka Shankar was born to master the Indian sitar. The daughter of Indian sitar legend Ravi Shanakar, she would tag along with her father on his concerts all over the world, and she even signed with EMI at just 16 for her own deal. She is also the half-sister of Norah Jones. Shankar and Jones were both nominated for a Grammy in 2003 and then again in subsequent years as well. Additionally an actress, writer, activist and mother, this is a woman with her hands full – and not just with that giant sitar. my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

Due to her half sister’s incredible fame, most people are going to get right to the three tracks with Jones – “The Sun Won't Set,” “Traces Of You,” and “Unsaid.” "The Sun Won't Set" starts the album of with a calming tone that we expect from Jones’ voice, and the song resonates with a soft jazz feeling. Further along, "Traces Of You" broaches spiritual territory and is one of the most emotional tracks included, and the album ends with "Unsaid," where the pair turns in a powerful, heartfelt ballad.

Of course, this is first and foremost Shankar's album. She has an incredible skill at blending Indian and world music sounds with Western ideas, resulting in very original compositions with a wealth of variety. Songs like "Flight" and "Maya And Fathers" are hushed and relaxed, while others like "River Pulse" are more folk-based. "Metamorphosis" even brings in electronic programming, which might on paper appear out of place among instruments like flutes and glockenspiels, but Shankar keeps everything flowing together seamlessly.

The extremely complicated finger picking of the sitar is graceful and soothing across all these tracks. With 18-20 strings on this instrument, Shankar has a large arsenal of sounds available at her disposal and utilizes many of them. Though there are more noisemakers involved here, the sitar is the focus, as well as the agile, comforting singing.

Sadly, Shankar's father passed away while she was making Traces Of You. Bringing Jones into the project turned it into a memorial from Ravi's daughters. Though fans of Jones will probably guarantee a lot of new ears to Shankar's song craft, it's impossible to walk away from this without being thoroughly impressed with the work of both sisters on this accomplished and thoughtful album.

Rating: B+

User Rating: Not Yet Rated


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