Review Summary: California-based Shimshai gives acoustic music a world-fusion makeover, combining global influences with a spiritual context
World fusion artist Shimshai
weaves acoustic strings through a global network of musical influences - Spanish, Arabic, and Portuguese among them - to produce a calming, spiritual take on acoustic folk. No matter what language he is singing in, Shimshai’s style is rooted in the traditions of folk but it transcends genre with its exotic eclecticism, breaking down the barriers of geography, time, and religious beliefs. The result is an ambitious yet low-key journey towards higher consciousness, and Shimshai’s soulful, peaceful vocal delivery hammers home a message of eternal love, brotherhood, and devotion to God that is universally understood despite any cultural differences. This is the kind of open-minded and intellectually stimulating songcraft that hippies strived for the in the late ‘60s but couldn’t let go of the rock element.
The opening cut, “Ang Sang Wahe Guru,” has a soaring rhythm that glides atop lovely Bansuri flutes and steady heartbeat percussion. The harmonizing is quite heavenly as well. Based on the Sikh poem “Jin Prem Kio” by Snatam Kaur, “Ang Sang Wahe Guru” showcases the stunning beauty of world music and how emotionally fulfilling and spiritually cleansing it can be. The instrumental “Sitaraga” is self-explanatory as it offers Shimshai an opportunity to display his skills with the sitara, which is basically a smaller, less complicated version of the sitar, an instrument the Beatles popularized in their psychedelic period. However, Shimshai is not aiming for a tripped-out experience here; his sitara instead creates a feeling of warmth and relaxation, pushing his music towards New Age tranquility.
“Malachei El-Yon” moves to an understated reggae pulse, its tumbling percussion pushing the track forward. “La Semilla (Be in the Now)” is English folk with a Spanish twist while “Me Illumina” finds Shimshai experimenting with jazzy flavors.