Dechen Shak-Dagsay

Shi De: A Call for World Peace

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There are some things in life that you can count on. Every two or three years Madonna will find a way to get back into the center of public attention; Axl Rose is never going to finish Chinese Democracy; and when an album title includes the phrase "world peace," the music is going to be terrible. In general, you can assume that the more exalted the musician's extramusical goals, the less important the music will be to him or her (because after all, what do hooks matter when world peace is on the line?). But every rule has its exceptions, and here's the exception to that one. Dechen Shak-Dagsy has the kind of sweet, unaffected voice that cynical musos and dewy-eyed new agers alike can't help but enjoy, and her accompaniment on this album is a spare but elegant combination of guitar, sitar, and the occasional barely there keyboard or tanpura. The melodies are simply and heartbreakingly lovely, and the lyrics are all sung in Tibetan -- but translations are available in the booklet, so if you want to hear about how all the animals of the earth may have been our mothers at some time, or if you want to be exhorted to "affectionate friendship" and "sincere helpfulness," you're all set. If, on the other hand, you want nothing more than to luxuriate in the heart-lifting beauty of the music itself, you can do that even more easily. Highly recommended to all Type A personalities.

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