Ramgoonai Drupatee

I Love Mih Chutney

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Drupatee was among a handful of female soca singers, probably the most visible in chutney soca, the Trinidad term for soca sung by singers of Asian Indian descent. She disappeared sometime in the late '80s, and I Love Mih Chutney smacks of a post-marriage-and-children comeback. It's also low-to-no budget, mostly a minimal one-man band home studio affair, and sounds like so much lightweight fluff that it bears next to no resemblance to the impressive, dynamic singer of years past. So there are cheesy synth horn lines, the breakneck soca rhythm, and full-tilt congas buttons punched into the drum machine full-time (not that they hit with enough force), and Drupatee's voice makes her sound like some bubblehead inhaling helium. There's no middle and body to the sound here -- just lots of drums and percussion down below, keyboards playing an Indian flavored-melody up above. "Sweet Tassa Man" and "Jai Jai Panday" are originals, the latter featuring busy synth melodies and attempting jump-up rhythm snare shots that wind up way too mechanical. It's totally lightweight until "Special Brew" starts and -- hey folks, suddenly I Love Mih Chutney is a real soca disc for the last four songs, and you know why? Somebody dropped some cash for a real horn section, backing singers to lend weight and harmonies to Drupatee's gossamer-thin vocals (you'd be surprised how big a difference that makes), and even a rhythm guitar down there giving some sonic depth to the middle. It's orthodox soca that certainly doesn't take any risks, but that's a blessed relief by this point. You can at least listen to "Give Dem Tassa," with its happening percussion breakdown at the fade, or the strong horn hook and classic soca vocal harmonies as Drupatee whips up some heat on "Time for Action" -- which is more than you can say for the first half a dozen tracks, and you can draw the obvious morals/conclusions for your own self.