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|Already hip to Deva Premal? You'll know her then to be possessed of one of the most glorious voices ever. You'll also know her creative focus to be on ancient Sanskrit mantras put to devotional song. It makes her a female Gopi counterpart to Jai Uttal's Shivaite kirtan-prince archetype. Songs for the Inner Lover now becomes her lover's debut solo release. Miten's guitar and background vocals had always adorned his girl friend's albums. Songs finally puts him into the limelight, with Premal providing his background vocals for a change. If this sounds like a no-brainer recipe for success, you wouldn't be wrong - except for one aspect that could make it a deal breaker for some.
How so? The predominantly English lyrics. In many ways, the most devotional of words -- the ones that hint at the deepest of heartfelt truths -- also turn the most trite the moment they're shared in public. The Western gesture of scientific inquiry and doubt in particular has attitudinal problems with devotional spirituality. Just envision a Christian revival meet, with standing-room-only crowds swaying obviously entranced to Gospel song. Silent tears running down their cheeks while singing demonstrate the depth of meaning which these lyrics hold - for them. But should you find yourself an outsider, a non-believer in the personal savior myth, you'd quickly grow restlessly uncomfortable and extremely displaced. You'd feel as though watching passionate and lengthy on-screen kissing. You know it's real for the lovers - but you shouldn't be there watching like a casual peeping tom.
Miten's lyrics are a direct outgrowth of his spiritual journey with Osho Rajneesh. Should you find yourself in accord with this vision, Songs is the mothership into its "Vertical Reality". It can take you right back, into the powerful presence of benediction which radiated outwards from this mystic. It easily spanned a 50-mile radius, what us devotees referred to as his Buddhafield. However, if you weren't there; if you haven't traveled parallel paths to generate similar life experience and insights ... these very honest lyrics could backfire to transport you smack into the midst of your 'wrong kind' of revival meet. The dividing line is the word casual. As a bystander, you'd feel rubbed against the grain. As a participant? Songs is the endless elevator. How far you ride it is purely up to you.
With this out of the way, the album is fantastically arranged, contemporarily hip, full of the Love, Life & Laughter spirit of Tantric acceptance that embraces all raw experiential material as bricks to build bridges with, rather than walls. Easy yet sophisticated melodies, tasteful harmonizing and seductive grooves manage to incorporate elements from the New Age, WorldBeat and -- in the lyrical honesty -- folksy singer/songwriter domains to place Songs for the Inner Lover in the same aural gallery of Deuter, Tulku, Uttal, Singh Kaur and Rasa. That makes it a rare gem - if you can provide the proper psychic setting to let it sparkle.
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