The beauty of such an album lies in the very fact that it brings so many colors and textures to the audience through the sounds that are otherwise unheard or not usually heard in one’s surroundings, and the unfailing magic of music works on everyone–whether you heard the vocals or the instruments before or not, you will be touched by it! With every song that the Shunia duo has included in their self-titled album, they have been able to convey a soothing and assuring message to the listeners while layering it with musical beauty and taste.
If you heard a few of the singles that they have released prior to the full album, you already know what joy and brilliant combination of voices and instruments they bring together to create vibrations that go deep into the hearts of the listeners. From the very first one to the last one, every song is a gem; unmissable!
Album Name: Shunia
Artist (s) Name: Shunia (Lisa Reagan & Suzanne Jackson)
Total Time: 49:32
The album has eight songs and embodies the spirit and feel of various cultures and languages, and it is incredible to find that they have delivered every song with outstanding elan and musical beauty. Out of these eight, six are inspired by the mantra songs that are quite popular in the Kundalini Yoga community in the West and originate from the Punjabi language.
The very first one, “Sa Re Sa Sa,” is a joyous celebration of the mantra and realization. If you saw the video of this song when it was released as a single, you will notice the color and vibrancy visible on the face of everyone in that video. The song also features Hassan Hakmoun who plays his sintir and adds a unique touch to the song.
Check out of the video here:
“Breeze at Dawn” opens with strings and a call to “come to the light; open to the light,” before the Shunia Duo creates an angelic effect to the timeless words of Rumi, who wrote this poem. I loved the small snippets of the flute too in this song.
Check out the video here:
From Africa, Asia to the Middle East, now you go to the European culture–“Alleluia” is the celebration and sung harmonically with multiple voice layers. The impact it creates has such a soothing and calming effect on the mind. The Latin and the music transports you directly somewhere feeling the spirit of Christ! The kamancheh creates a stand-out effect in the background before at the fag end, the flute makes it a breeze. Beautifully done!
Check out the video here:
It is time to fuse the cultures and who else it could be then the Supreme one, to whom we offer everything! “Akal“ is the one that will give you goosebumps right from the start…the effect the duo has created with the Italian words is mesmerizing before adding the chanting beauty of another mantra from the Punjabi language. A true amalgamation of cultures, instruments, styles, yet the intention remains singular. It truly sounds like a song of angels.
Check out the video here:
Hassan Hakmoun once again weaves his magic as he plucks his sintir joyously in “Har Hare Hari Wahe Guru”–another mantra popular with the Kundalini Yoga community. Makes you dance is ecstasy.
Breaking out like a morning Raga, “Ang Sang Wahe Guru,” establishes unique tranquility in the body. The duduk is beautiful with its slow-tempo, persuasive sound. The song literally means ‘the supreme master is around my being only,’ and how intimately it is sung. The sitar, the guitar, and the vocals flow as if a feather is floating on the water carefree and worry-less because it knows the power that protects it!
As I mentioned earlier, it is a power-packed album with every song going for the kill! You can’t find a single song that you will like to just pass by. “Ong Namo,” yet another popular mantra, backed by rhythmic drums, and sung in angelic style, is a beauty and immediately helps you tune to your inner self. The flute plays hide-and-seek and so do the drums, but the intensity of the chant is palpable. After 3:30s, the song combines English lyrics with the Punjabi chant, making it sound like a group-hymn.
The last song, the longest one, is the best when it comes to its musical brilliance–well, it is a difficult statement to make because every song, I mean every song has its uniqueness, but the sound of this song is literally haunting. It opens like the introduction of a magnum opus and takes you an ethereal journey of one of the most important and potent words in the Punjabi language, the spiritual heritage that the region enjoys, Satnam. “Sa Ta Na Ma” is a one-word chant with a literal meaning of “the true name,” and the music almost makes the time standstill. It is a call of a pining soul to the universal spirit, and the play between the duduk and the oboe is just out-of-the-world.
I liked the whole concept of the album very much–it is not easily done. They have kept it free of complexity yet the brilliance of the musicality of the album can be felt throughout. Once you plug into it, you can escape it!
Definitely one of the best albums of this year, “Shunia” is 100% up to the mark.
Kudos to everybody who participated in this–you all have given sonic medicine to the world!