Music Reviews
1:42 pm
Mon October 21, 2013

'Traces Of You': Anoushka Shankar's Memorial To Her Father

Originally published on Tue October 22, 2013 8:10 am

When Indian music icon Ravi Shankar died last year, his daughter, sitar player and composer Anoushka Shankar, was at work on her seventh album. The recording, Traces of You, became a kind of memorial.

Like her father, Anoushka Shankar began her musical life with a serious devotion to Indian classical music. She played her first concert at age 13. All these years later and the musician still pays homage to the august tradition of her instrument, the sitar.

Ravi Shankar rubbed shoulders with George Harrison and inspired jazz legends like John Coltrane, but as a musician, he mostly stuck to his tradition. His daughter, on the other hand, has blossomed as a composer, unafraid to experiment with form and instrumentation.

Anoushka Shankar's boldest move on her new record was reaching out to her half-sister Norah Jones to sing songs in memory of their father. While Jones is a tremendously versatile and supple musician, we hear a new side of her on "The Sun Won't Set." To appreciate this song, it helps to know that Ravi Shankar's first name means "sun" in Sanskrit.

The sisters' musical timbres and sensibilities blend so beautifully that their three collaborations really define this album. Jones was mostly distant from her father during his life, so when she adds the line "Thank you" to a song called "Unsaid," it's enough to break your heart.

Ravi Shankar first brought Indian music to the U.S. in the 1950s. The awareness he sparked has been weaving its way through pop culture ever since. On this landmark album, his daughters do him proud. We believe them when they say: This sun won't set.

Copyright 2013 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

When Indian music icon Ravi Shankar died last year, his daughter, sitar player and composer Anoushka Shankar, was in the middle of working on her seventh album. The recording became a kind of remembrance for her father. Banning Eyre has this review.

BANNING EYRE, BYLINE: Like her father, Anoushka Shankar began her musical life with a serious devotion to Indian classical music. She played her first concert at age 13. All these years later, she still pays homage to the august tradition of her instrument, the sitar.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

EYRE: Her father, Ravi Shankar, rubbed shoulders with George Harrison and inspired jazz legends like John Coltrane, but as a musician, he mostly stuck to his tradition. Anoushka, on the other hand, has bloomed as a composer, unafraid to experiment with form and instrumentation.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

EYRE: Anoushka Shankar's boldest move on "Traces Of You" was reaching out to her half-sister Norah Jones to sing songs in memory of their father. Jones is a tremendously versatile and supple musician, but we hear a new side of her here. To appreciate this song, it helps to know that Ravi Shankar's first name means "sun" in Sanskrit.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

NORAH JONES: (Singing) The sun won't set. Not now, not yet. The sun won't set. Not now, not yet. Golden embers fading round. They day is almost end. I wonder how it felt beneath the early sun.

EYRE: These two women's musical timbres and sensibilities blend so beautifully that their three collaborations really define this album. Jones was mostly distant from her father during his life, so when she adds the line "Thank you" to a song called "Unsaid," it's enough to break your heart.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

JONES: (Singing) Thank you. That was left unsaid. I feel maybe left unsaid. I don't know (unintelligible)

EYRE: Ravi Shankar first brought Indian music to the U.S. in the 1950s. And the awareness he sparked has been weaving its way through our popular culture ever since. On this landmark album, his daughters do him proud. We believe them when they say: This sun won't set.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

JONES: (Singing) (Unintelligible)

BLOCK: Banning Eyre is senior editor at AfroPop.org. He reviewed "Traces Of You" by Anoushka Shankar. The album's out tomorrow. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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