For sitarist and composer Anoushka Shankar's second offering for Deutsche Grammophon, she stays closer to home musically than she did on 2011's widely celebrated Traveller. That said, she carries what she learned from studying flamenco with producer Javier Limon and integrates it fully into these proceedings. Producer Nitin Sawhney, a fine recording artist in his own right, is an integral part of Traces of You. He wrote one of these 13 cuts, co-authored five more, and arranged and played on several others. This is easily the most intimate and emotional offering in Shankar's catalog. Though the album was planned earlier and its basic ideas outlined by Shankar and Sawhney, the music is indelibly informed by a life-changing event, the death of her father, Ravi Shankar. Opener and first single "The Sun Won’t Set" is one of three tracks to feature the voice of half-sister Norah Jones, whose haunting, bluesy vocal is adorned only by Shankar's sitar, a classical guitar, and Ghatam (a percussion instrument). The title track evokes the loss and spirit of her father in an uplifting way. A sprightly, syncopated rhythm track undergirds Jones' drifting vocal as Shankar's sitar alternately drones and accents alongside a tabla, glockenspiel, and guitar. It is one of the set's standout tracks. "Indian Summer" is a piano and sitar duet where flamenco and Indian classical music sit side by side. Three tracks -- "Lasya," "In Jyotyi's Name," and "Chasing Shadows" -- are squarely inside the Indian classical tradition, while several others, including "River Pulse," "Monsoon," and "Metamorphosis," use it in a context framed by electronic rhythms and loops without breaking the overriding lineage thread. Closer "Unsaid" features Jones' melody, vocal, and piano accompanying Shankar's lyrics and sitar. A poignant pop ballad, Sawhney adds just enough of Ian Burdge's cello to deepen its emotional impact. Throughout Traces of You, Shankar allows her vulnerability as a human being -- even in the instrumentals -- to freely converse with her authority as a musician and composer. Sawhney is an empathic producer balancing the sides, allowing her wide-ranging and integrative musical ideas to take root and flower even as they express tenderness, sadness, grace, and gratitude.
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