Manish Kalvakota

Manish Kalvakota

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This is a little better than Kalvakota's prior CD, 1998's Beauty, mostly because the production (by fellow singer/songwriter Charles Douglas, who plays a bunch of instruments on the record) is better. Kalvakota might get much of whatever attention he attracts for his occasional use of sitar and tabla, which is infrequent in both the mainstream and indie rock world of 2000. Actually, however, this is much more in the standard indie singer/songwriter mold than it is in the Indian music realm, or even the rock-Indian fusion realm. Kalvakota sings in a yearning, understated style that comes close to a dirgey, droning moan-sing, and his folky tunes are prone to self-pitying moralizing. When he gripes about how he can't understand why the object of his affections wants to be with another man in "Understanding" -- and then pledges to catch the target of his obsession in the act in a lugubrious tone that makes it hard to imagine him even getting out of bed -- it's hard to identify or feel much sympathy. Sometimes it's like listening to a much more tuneful, less grating Jandek (the lo-fi auteur known for his soft moaning free association), if you can imagine that. The occasional Indian instruments neither distract nor add significantly to the vocal numbers, and the instrumentals in a more Indian-leaning vein seem a little misplaced.

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