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Ocean of Mercy

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Album Review

Love Sheila Chandra's albums fusing Indian and European musical forms on Peter Gabriel's RealWorld label but miss the slightly poppier sound of her early-'80s albums with the synth pop trio Monsoon? Then Jaya Lakshmi's Ocean of Mercy is the perfect midpoint. This is not fluffy crossover pop; the eight-lengthy songs are all sung in Sanskrit and feature devotional lyrics. Yet Lakshmi (who also sings with the more pan-global band Lost at Last) subtly updates the arrangements with synthesizers and worldbeat touches that are well integrated into the rich, billowing sound. Unlike many albums that sound tacky and somehow off when exploring similar cross-cultural areas, Ocean of Mercy has a unified and powerful sound. Songs like the hypnotic, largely acoustic ten-minute chant "Gypsy Krsna" are perfect for those newcomers to South Asian music who find the Nonesuch Explorer series too forbidding. Purists may well find it far too pop, and an argument could be made for that belief, but Ocean of Mercy is a quite enjoyable listen.


Genre: New Age

Years Active:

Jaya Lakshmi mixes contemporary chant -- both sensual and spiritual -- with tribal dance beats and flamenco guitar to create a mystical soundtrack to accompany meditation, yoga, or just kicking back. Lakshmi took to music at a young age. Through piano lessons she found the guitar, an instrument that led her to form her own folk band in high school at the age of 15. In 1985 she earned a degree in anthropology from the University of New Hampshire, eventually moving western Oregon to pursue singing...
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Ocean of Mercy, Jaya Lakshmi
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