Swarathma brings together pulse and potential like never before. This self-titled debut album of the Bangalore-based Indian folk/fusion group was released by Virgin Records early this year (January 2009).
‘Swarathma’ comprises eight tunes, of which “Ee Bhoomi”, performed in Kannada, has been hugely popular at live performances. However, the album opens with “Jaana Kahan Hai Mujhe”, ideally placed at the start since it sets the mood nicely. The song, like the album, grows on you. Swarathma, known for its powerful stage acts and “fresh” tunes, glides effortlessly across this studio production.
Vasu Dixit`s soulful singing along with crisp guitar lines and delicate kanjira sounds make “Jaana Kahan Hai Mujhe” a promising number. “Pyar Ke Rang” follows and keeps the energy flowing well. The “volta” in the album is at “Sur Mera”, which blends blues and definitive Carnatic influences rather smoothly; be it the violin on the lead or the conversation between the ghatam and bass guitar — this one has loads to look out for.
At large, the lyrics compliment the arrangement and bring about a thematic unity. They talk about it all: the wanderlust, the love of nature, the complete surrender to music. A personal favourite is “Patte Saare”; with convincingly catchy guitar lines, it could well be the best track on the album. “Bolo Kya Hai” is probably Swarathma’s most obvious ‘rock’ offering of the collection. The strong backbeats and razor edge guitar lead make it a promising Hindi rock song that can get most of Young-istan on the move. With “Barsenge”, the album shifts focus back to the folk strain and the undeniable Indian elements come into play. The album concludes with “Pyaasi”, and its rainmaker, ending on plaintive note.
Although the album makes for an enjoyable listen and deserves repeated plays, it might become rusty with time. Skilled musicianship and an honest effort is evident in the tunes, and this establishes the band as one with immense promise. Only much better can be expected, soon.