Susheela Raman

Salt Rain

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Opening Salt Rain is an invocation to the Hindu deity Lord Ganesh, remover of obstacles. In the Indian tradition, it's always a good idea to get Ganesh's blessings at the beginning of any new venture. Susheela Raman may toss in bass, drums, and other Western flourishes, but she also knows when to stick with the tried and true practices of her native culture. Raman also affords praise to other deities, namely the devis or goddesses Saraswati and Kamakshi, and lords Shiva and Rama. No doubt about it, Salt Rain is truly a mix of East and West, as Raman sought out producer Sam Mills after hearing his work with Bengali singer Paban Das Baul. Mills gathered musicians from around the world to create the backdrop for Raman, who sings in English and various Indian languages -- Sanskrit, Hindi, Tamil, Telugu -- as well as East African Luo. Most of the songs are traditional prayers or chants that Raman and Mills arranged in such ways as to fit their vision without losing the essence of the original. Overall, they did a pretty good job, as Raman shines more on those pieces than any others.

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