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Haute Fidelite (France), June 2009

Review of "Rishte" - Gary Lucas and Najma Akhtar

4 out of 5 Artistic
4 out of 5 Technical

Originally South Asian, Najma Akhtar is a British singer specializing in fusion, whose style is also informed by Indian and Bollywood influences, and jazz and pop. She has worked with Jah Wobble, Jimmy Page and Robert Plant, and Steve Coleman. That's how she made her name. Gary Lucas is an American guitarist, eclectic and curious of everything, which led him to about 20 solo albums and some glorious collaborations, including Captain Beefheart, Jeff Buckley, Lou Reed and John Cale.

The meeting of these two was absolutely astonishing and precious. In love with Indian music in general and Ravi Shankhar particularly, Gary Lucas discovered Najma's first album by accident. These two began collaborating from spring 2007 giving improvised concerts. Their chemistry was transferred into Najma's lyrics and melodies based on Gary's acoustic and electric instrumentals.

"Rishte" is the fruit of that collaboration supported by teamwork--including Alicia Svigals on violin, Nitin Mitta, Dibyarka Chatterjee and Narendra Budakhar on tablas. The cocktail is savory, very astonishing, and offers a superb rhythmic result. This little bit of blues will shatter you.

Furthermore, it is very well produced in the House of Vibes Studio in New Jersey. Tracks are clear and never colorless or dry. Its a perfect combination of sounds of tablas, guitar chords, and romantic emotive vocals. It's smart and crystal clear without falling into harshness.

Laurent Thorin