“Nirankaar” by Snatam Kaur: CD Review

Snatam Kaur's voice is rhapsodic and mesmerizing

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There are a few songs that have made me stop in my tracks upon first hearing them and “Re Man Eh Bidh Jog Kamao” by Snatam Kaur is one of them. Little did I know on that fateful day in 2007 that the song lasted for 32 minutes. It must have been quite strange for the other customers in the store to watch a full-grown man peering into a speaker in the ceiling for more than a half hour like a child looking for the orchestra in the radio. I didn’t have to understand Gurmuki — the Sikh language of prayer — to be immediately transported by the music of Snatam Kaur. Her voice has a unique, rhapsodic quality that is utterly mesmerizing

On her new album Nirankaar, the New Age Grammy nominee takes us on a journey of beautifully produced mantra music with rich, contemporary arrangements that interweave guitars, tablas, keyboards, strings and trumpet. You can listen here.

While the kirtan styles of contemporary artists such as Krishna Das, Deva Premal & Miten, and Jai Uttal typically feature Sanskrit mantras, Snatam Kaur is renown for her vast repertoire of luminous Sikh mantras, which she has been singing since she was a little girl. Each of these mantras is a distinctive prayer to a higher power.

The title of the CD means “Formless God” and according to Snatam expresses how the divine manifests in ways that cannot easily be understood. I loved “Ang Sang Waaheguru,” which translates as “The divine… absolute joy, bliss, and love… dances in every cell and fiber of our being.” Snatam begins the song with a dreamy infectious verse and we become lost in the resonance of her reverence. The song then transitions via a sparkling guitar riff and crisp tablas into an uplifting chorus that flows into an inspiring, moving celebration of the infinite through rhythm and repetition.

The songs of Nirankaar were written and produced with bandmates Ram Dass on piano and vocals, Grecco Buratto on guitar and vocals, and Sukhmani on tabla, percussion, and vocals. All of these outstanding tracks were composed to enhance sacred mantras that were specifically selected by Snatam to help people live through the unprecedented changes brought on by the pandemic.

As a singer, writer, teacher and peace-activist, Snatam has been an inspiration to the international yoga community for nearly two decades. After hearing “Re Man Eh Bidh Jog Kamao” 15 years ago, I licensed the song to play on my “Yoga for Depression and Anxiety” DVD and always play it when I practice or teach yoga. Her music is indispensable for kundalini yoga kriyas and her songs ring out at all kundalini festivals and yoga studios. 

Snatam, who typically tours abroad annually, has been able to stay connected with her followers via her online school Kirtan and Kundalini. She and her band will soon embark on the Into The Light international tour through the United Kingdom, Europe and Israel, incorporating group meditations for peace every night as well as workshops. For more information please visit www.snatamkaur.com.

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