Music Review: The Sweetest Nectar by Simrit Kaur
By Ramdesh Kaur on July 16th 2010
The Sweetest Nectar is a stunning first album. There is something intimate and rich about Simrit’s voice, a quality that holds within it strength and courage and sweetness to boot. She was born to sing kirtan; there is no doubt about that.
What is incredible here is the strength of the album itself as a consistent and solid mass of great music. The production and mixing, which was done by a variety of producers including Ram Dass Khalsa, Hans Christian, Todd Boston and Simrit Kaur herself, is strong and capable, like the steady hand of a master teacher.
The first track “Akal…Deathless” introduces a very profound tradition in Kundalini Yoga. When a person has died, you chant “Akal” a minimum of three times. Akal means deathless and it helps to release the soul from attachment to the body, the earth and those it left behind. Simrit’s voice holds a world of power within it; she is an alchemist whose throat, with a simple akal, can take your spirit from grief to love. The mantra Sat Siri Siri Akal is woven into the track, and it is a mantra sung every morning during sadhana. This mantra helps your own soul to realize its greatness and its eternal nature. With this song, Simrit connects your heart to the undying spirit of those you have lost and then reminds your own soul that it, too, is deathless. There is comfort and solace and grace here, and it is no amateur singer that accomplishes this sense of deep emotion with just one word.
“Wah Yantee”, the second track, is an incredibly lovely version of this verse from Patanjali’s yoga sutras. Said to promote intuition, this mantra is a profoundly powerful tool for connecting with your creative self. What is magical here, and there is much that is magical on the album, is how well this track supports meditation. If you want to use Wah Yantee as a meditation, the melody, instrumentation and vocals will push you into a deep state of focus and serenity very quickly.
“Tithai Too Samarath” is smooth and rhythmic, blending Gurmukhi prayer with a solid percussion that makes it perfect for a yoga practice. The pace is quick enough to keep your body active, yet honest and prayerful enough to keep your mind calm.
The next track is a lovely “Ardas Bhaee”. You’re welcomed into this track with a gentle sitar and the stage is set for Simrit’s voice to lead you in the ultimate prayer. Yogi Bhajan said of this mantra, “Normally there is no power in the human but the power of prayer. And to do prayer, you have to put your mind and body together and then pray from the soul. Ardas Bahee is a mantra prayer. If you sing it, your mind, body and soul automatically combine and without saying what you want, the need of life is adjusted. That is the beauty of this prayer.” The viola, played lovingly by Sahib-Amar Khalsa, who also played on Prabhu Nam Kaur’s Seasons of the Soul, has its own voice on this track. Simrit and the viola pray together. In Christian writings, it is said that wherever two or more are gathered in prayer, God will be there with them. The Infinite Love Intelligence that animates this universe is hidden in the sound current passed so sweetly between Simrit’s clear and sparkling voice and the gentle viola. Prayers are answered in this healing space.
On “Hey Gobind Hey Gopal”, Simrit Kaur leads us all in an uplifting and emotionally insistent plea for support from our Beloved God, the creative force of the Universe. This feels like a song for all humanity, a swelling and soaring request that we all might be elevated and assisted during difficult times. It is a mantra that appeals to the aspect of the Divine that is both creative and nurturing, reminding it that life can get very hard for us sometimes and asking for its grace to help us thrive. She sings for us all, creating a boat on her voice to carry us across the dark ocean of the world. The percussion, by Ramesh Kannan of Urban Nature, who is currently on tour with Snatam Kaur, has strength and solidity; it holds Simrit’s soaring voice to the earth, grounding it.
The title track, “The Sweetest Nectar”, is a proud and expansive Waheguru Wahejio. Simrit Kaur has sung this to herself thousands of times, no doubt, and she has touched that part of her own soul’s infinity that really believes it. That place of deep belief is where she sings from, inviting you to enter into her experience of inner clarity. Have you touched upon the potential of your own infinity? Chant with her. Open your heart and sing to yourself, to your own True Identity, to your own limitlessness. Then be humbled by its magnificence, for it is larger than just you, larger than just her, larger than any of us. Waheguru is the bliss, the perfection of the totality of experience, that is the Creative Divine, and which lives in us, as us, through us, every one.
The Long Time Sun song, which is used to close every Kundalini Yoga class, will be a welcome addition to yoga teachers who wish to use this album during their classes.
This is a beautiful album and it is clear that it is not her last; Simrit Kaur will be singing for years to come. What is The Sweetest Nectar? It is the touch of the Divine, the inspiration from Infinity, the grace of the Universe. Simrit Kaur pours you a cup. Go ahead and take a sip.
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Photos by Santosh,
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