2017 / Acoustic Shine
Review by Kathy Parsons
Soothe is the third album from guitar maestro Shambhu. Co-produced by Todd Boston, the album features eight original tracks and an innovative arrangement of one of George Gershwin’s Preludes. An impressive team of supporting musicians includes Paul McCandless, Michael Manring, Premik Russell Tubbs, Ravichandra Kulur, Jeff Haynes and Kristin Hoffmann. In an email conversation, Shambhu told me: “This one has a few more years of growth, explorations and a more stressed world needing heartfelt beauty and calm that music delivers so wonderfully.” In a recent interview, he mentioned that he recorded Soothe as “a peaceful aural antidote” to the anxiety he’s felt among his friends since the November election. “Music is a universal language that connects us regardless of politics.” I couldn’t agree more!
Shambhu is a lifelong musician who has performed and created music in a broad range of genres and with a who’s who of musicians from around the world. That experience gives him a sound that is difficult to categorize - always a good thing, I think! Jazz influences are often present, but so are world music, folk music, classical, and rock. It’s a vibrant palette that Shambhu uses, telling colorful stories that come from the heart of the composer to the heart of the listener. Saying that music is “peaceful” can sometimes mean that the music is best-suited to be in the background or to induce sleep, but that isn’t the case here. This music has strength and “soul” as well as substance to sink your musical teeth into. Sure, it’s wonderful background music, too, but give your ears and mind a treat by really listening to it!
Soothe begins with “Knowingness,” a smooth, graceful piece that features Shambhu on acoustic guitar, Ravichandra Kulur on bamboo flute and the haunting, wordless vocals of Kristin Hoffmann - a wonderful opening that sets the tone for the album. Sax great Premik Russell Tubbs helps to give “Time Travel” wings along with electric and acoustic guitars, and keyboard - soothing yet energizing. “Days Like Falling Stars” is a favorite with soulful guitars interwoven with the artistry of Paul McCandless on soprano sax. Gershwin’s bluesy “Prelude 2” is mostly a duet for guitar and sax (George Brooks). Slow, dark and slinky, it’s another favorite. “Gaia Sweet Divine” is the first single from the album and features the beautiful vocals of Kristin Hoffmann, who co-wrote the song. The title track is a gentle mind massage with guitars and washes of atmospheric color as well as Hoffmann’s wordless vocals. “Walking Through a Dream” returns to more of a smooth jazz vibe with Tubbs on sax and Frank Martin on keyboards, bringing this excellent album to a tranquil close.
I wouldn’t be surprised to see Soothe become Shambhu’s second ZMR “Best Contemporary Instrumental Album” award (he won in 2013 for his second album, Dreaming of Now). Soothe is available from Amazon, iTunes and CD Baby. Very highly recommended!
January 9, 2017