Nitin Sawhney – One Zero (Metropolis Recordings/Cherry Red)
CD/Vinyl Box Set
There’s something always makes me wince when I hear that an artist has ‘re-interpreted their songs for an acoustic album’. To me, it usually marks lack of idea and well, a bit of a cash-in or a stop-gap before a new album. It would appear that the new Nitin Sawhney album may be one of the later with a new album, Dystopian Dream, due in 2014.
What makes this album intriguing is the fact that it was recorded live, straight to vinyl. Something which apparently hasn’t been done in the mainstream for thirty-five years. What makes this such a great thing? According to Sawhney, it enhances focus, commitment and concentration, and, listening to the album you really can’t argue with the man. Tracks like openers Accept Yourself and Sunset are immaculate, perfectly performed , and contain the wonderful fusion of East meets West that he is so clever at creating. A whole generation of listeners possibly turned onto Indian music by his originality and daring.
Where the album goes slightly awry is with some of his tracks that do not have the inter-continental fusion. With early albums Spirit Dance or Migration he was truly original and spellbinding, but, in later years he has opted for a more westernised, commercial feel which has, in many ways, lost some of the Sawhney charm. Album closer, I Ask You, is case in point. Featuring guest vocals by the undoubtedly talented Joss Stone, it is merely a pop song (and not a particularly great one) which is carried by her vocals. It’s nice enough but doesn’t possess anything any different to a million other songs around at the moment.
There are other great highlights though, the vocal interplay and frenetic percussion on The Conference was always superb, but, it now lifted to another level on OneZero, and, the Indian/Blues mix on Dead Man makes for a brilliant track.
The album does contain excellent musicianship and is well worth a listen merely for that, but, if you want to hear Sawhney at his best, 1999’s Beyond Skin is probably the one most likely to help to get to know the man.
Published on Louder Than War 19/07/13 - here