|A Review of
Reviewed by Chris Smith.
In the Fall of 2009, Carrie Newcomer was invited to India to perform and to work with students in creating art rooted in themes of peace and justice. While there, she met Amjad Ali Khan, Amaan Ali Khan and Ayaan Ali Khan, all masters of the Indian musical instrument, the sarod. These experiences led to a collaboration between Carrie and the Khan family, part of which has been captured on Carrie’s newest album, Everything is Everywhere. Most of the songs here feature Carrie’s lovely earthy songwriting, carrying on in the similar vein of her last album Before & After. The major difference here is that Carrie’s songwriting is accompanied not only by her guitars, but also by the ethereal, distinctively Indian sounds of the Khan’s sarod playing. The final song on the album “Fountain of Love” is a “new interpretation of a traditional Indian raga” that was contributed by the Khan family.
Many of the songs on the album are rooted in Carrie’s experience in India, including the title track (see the video above). One of my favorites is “We Were Sleeping” which explores the rhythms and continuity of nature:
We were sleeping when it all began,
When spirits walked with open hands,
And the water parted from the land,
We were sleeping when it all begin.
The blessed rain falls like grace,
Without regard to wealth or race,
And returns to vapor from this place,
The blessed rain it falls like grace.
Look away look away,
Hot and dry as it’s been,
It’s a wonder when the rain begins.
The rain begins.
As a collaboration with the Khans, artists whose work, like Carrie’s is deeply rooted in their spirituality, one of the recurring themes on Everything is Everywhere, is the many experiences we share in common despite our differing religious traditions. “I Believe” is a superb example o of this gracious interfaith musing, and another fine example is the song “May We Be Released”:
May you bless the place you live,
And bless the spot you fell,
And let go of hidden stories,
Too dangerous to tell.
Let there be no stones to throw,
And someone to watch your back,
And some prayers be never be answered,
For the things we think we lack.
May we be released,
May we held dear,
May we listen to the wisdom,
That we didn’t want hear.
May we be released,
Similarly, in “Air and Smoke,” we are called to reflect on the mystery that lies at the heart of our faith, regardless of our tradition.
I have long been a fan of traditional music from the Indian continent, and recent albums by Aradhna have stoked this love again. Everything is Everywhere is a delightful variation in the same vein, you will not want to miss it! And if the music itself were not reason enough to check out this album, most of the profits from its sale are being donated, appropriately to the Interfaith Hunger Initiative.