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Friday, April 8, 2011

Manisha Shahane - When Parallel Lines Meet


Manisha Shahane - When Parallel Lines Meet
2010, Bridging Hemispheres Music

Manisha Shahane describes her musical style as 'Bollyfolk Bhajazz", blending the styles of Kate Bush, Norah Jones, Loreena McKennitt and Susheela Raman.  After listening to Shahane's second album, When Parallel Lines Meet, you'll agree that she's not quite like anyone you've heard before.  A four-year recipient of the ASCAPlus Award in the Jazz and Popular Division, Shahane has a voice that is both beautiful and exotic. 

Shahane opens with "Girls Gone World", a gorgeous blend of polyrhythmic beats, oud and ethereal musical backdrops.  While her singing parts are sublime, the spoken voiceover used here is more of a distraction than anything else.  If you could blot out the voiceover this song becomes an intriguing and oft-times gorgeous listen.  "Mother Don't Cry" blends piano, cello, flute and percussion in a lovely and moving musical backdrop that is significant even it grows a bit repetitive.  "Remember This Day" is a blend of World Pop with elements of new age, jazz and South American rhythms.  Shahane's vocal line is utterly lovely, although at times it sounds like she becomes untethered from the musical structure of the song.    "Mrs. Underwood" is a stirring memorial to a person who touched Shahane's life in childhood, or perhaps a conglomeration of people who influenced her into adulthood.  The song becomes a chide against the downfall of polite civilization and dreams.  Shahane's wish to return to the simplicity of childhood is universal in nature and certain to appeal to listeners.

"How Things Change" marks how life's milestones can work to bring us together or tear us apart.  Here the life event is birth of triplets and a spark that reignites an old friendship.  Shahane's songwriting is artful, poetic and sweet.  "Still" is a dramatic and emotionally charged memorial.  Shahane's vocals are lovely as always, although she does lose it on the single high note here.  "Into The Valley" a solid, mostly-instrumental Bossa Nova.  Shahane does sing, but the vocal line is almost an afterthought this time around.  Shahane dips into the well of memory for "First Dance", recalling a Jr. High Sadie Hawkins dance.  Hawkins uses the power of simile to draw parallels between the first dance, marriage and life in general.  The imagery here is pure genius, and Shahane has married it to an arrangement that is nothing less than gorgeous.  When Parallel Lines Meet closes with "In Search Of Yaman", a gorgeous Hindustani tone poem in the Raaga tradition that infuses western elements.  It's a stunning end to an album full of stunning moments.

Manisha Shahane blends styles and sounds like winds blend in the sky.  When Parallel Lines Meet is beautifully complex and intriguing.  This is not an album you can listen to just once unless you weren't really listening the first time.  Shahane writes compelling and articulate songs that touch deep truths in both music and words.  She'll grow on you with each successive listen.

Rating: 4 Stars (Out of 5)

Learn more about Manisha Shahane at or Parallel Lines Meet is available from as a CD or Download.  The album is also available from iTunes.

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