On the aptly titled Home, Anoushka Shankar returns to her musical roots. The result is stunning : the music darts from one place to another, an endless series of subtle variations, so natural and beautiful that before you know it the music’s captured your soul.
It may seem a world away from hit factories like X Factor. But we’ve been here before. In 1966 Ahoushka’s father Ravi Shankar met George Harrison. Weeks later George was in India learning sitar from the master and Ravi had become an international superstar. For George Harrison this was no passing fad : he later described Ravi Shankar as “the first person who ever impressed me in my life.” The unlikely marriage of western pop and Indian classical music was consummated at the 1971 Concert for Bangladesh, co-organised by George and Ravi.
When Anoushka was born in London in 1981, her father was already 61. But he was to play a vital role in her life, teaching her the sitar from the age of 7. From the age of 14 she began accompanying him as he performed concerts around the world. Her early albums were pieces of Indian classical music written by her father : the third album Live At Carnegie Hall won her a first Grammy nomination at the age of 20. Since then she’s been on a creative journey, exploring other genres such as flamenco and collaborating with a range of famous musicians. On this track she performs with her half sister, multiple Grammy winner Norah Jones :
Anoushka Shankar with Norah Jones – Traces Of You
Of course Hindustani classical music has always remained at the bedrock of her live performances; but the death of her father in December 2012 has motivated her to honour him by putting her heart and soul into a classical music recording.
Although Home clocks in at 55 minutes, it only includes 4 tracks. Anoushka has this advice on listening to the album : “This music is a slow burn, you know? If someone’s used to the average two-and-a-half-minute song on the radio, it can be hard to understand what’s going on, because at two and a half minutes we’re still just playing the first notes and establishing things. Give it the time to open up and play, and then it sort of seeps under your skin, and it has a very profound impact as a result.”
Raga Jogeshwari- Jod, Jhala is a raga composed by Ravi Shankar, to which Anoushka has added her own improvisations :
This description of Raga Jogeshwari—Gat in Rupaktal is better than I can manage : “Shankar begins a journey with a raga that the listener has now come to know well, and adds the flavour of an accompanying tabla. The jugal bandi of the two instruments together creates a depth that is hard to describe—as tracks get longer and longer, one barely notices that this track in particular lasts for more than 15 minutes. There is pace and beat, with a long, built-up rise to a slow and passionate fall.”