Krishna Das

Heart Full of Soul

Rating 3.5

Label: Nutone

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At first glance, the album cover for Heart Full of Soul is not one to catch the eye of the average CD rack browser. However, listeners who have previously listened to and appreciated Krishna Das’ earlier albums know that it is not the appearance of the cover that motivates their desire to hear more of the aural magic that this man weaves. For those familiar with Krishna Das’ (affectionately known as K.D.) previous albums such as Pilgrim Heart and Flow of Grace, it’s generally agreed that he’s a modern day master of the Kirtan (a devotional spiritual chant of India), with an incredibly rich voice of ageless quality. Heart Full of Soul was recorded live and includes K.D.’s voice along with his backup group and an audience that sings the accompanying response, a characteristic of how most Kirtans are generally orchestrated.

As with his previous albums, this recording is dominated by what appears to be a sacred and ancient musical expression with an unmistakably apparent Indian flavor. However, both subtle and obvious aspects of Western influences are evident in the rhythmic tempo and beat of many songs. The instrumentation includes the harmonium, which produces soft organ-like sounds, and a tabla, as well as a drum kit, bass guitar, acoustic guitars and violin. The choral response is provided by both K.D.’s Cosmic Kirtan Posse and the audience.

Almost all the tracks are designed as musical offerings of devotional praise for various Hindu deities, gods and goddesses, including Hanuman, Krishna, Rama, Kali and Durga. An exception can be seen in K.D.’s version of “Jesus on the Main Line,” which is sung in English rather than in Sanskrit; here, K.D. belts out the song with revivalist gusto. The tempo and beat of many other chants, such as “Shri Ram Jai Ram Jai Jai Ram,” are slower and more deliberate than those from previous albums, an approach that allows the listener to get slowly lost in the hypnotic effect of the repetitive lyrics and also enables the audience to easily sing along.

Some audiences may find that these qualities detract from the album, making it somewhat less dynamically uplifting and thus a bit less satisfying than K.D.’s earlier albums. Listeners who aren’t familiar with K.D.’s work may wish to consider one of the previously released albums for their first exploratory taste.

It is undeniable however, as with all K.D.’s releases, that as the audience chants along with K.D. and his Cosmic Posse, a feeling of palpable interconnection is engendered, engulfing the listener and inviting him or her to partake on an inner journey along the path of devotion.

by Allyn Sterling

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