Heart of the Universe Peter Kater & Snatam Kaur 2012 / Spirit Voyage Publishing /Point of Light Records 57.5 minutes
"Heart of the Universe" is a richly inspiring musical collaboration between pianist/composer Peter Kater and sacred chantress Snatam Kaur. The eight songs on the album have original musical settings, but the lyrics are sometimes original and more often from Sikh sacred writings. One of the things I find especially interesting about this album is that it can be savored from more than one point of view. Obviously, the original intent was to convey deep spiritual devotion and a passionate faith, but it’s also very easy to listen to some of these gorgeous songs from a more human-to-human-love perspective, making this music that can be a very stirring musical experience for just about anyone. Kater, one of my favorite pianists, mostly stays behind Kaur’s soaring vocals, but there are several places where his piano really shines. He also produced this album and appears on keyboards along with piano. Kaur’s voice is a fascinating mix of gentle sweetness and passionate strength, and there are several pieces on this album that stop me in my tracks every time I listen to it. There is a purity to her singing that is truly remarkable. Backing musicians include Paul McCandless, Christian Teele, Glen Velez, Larry Thompson, Bijoux Barbosa, and the Macedonia Radio Symphonic Orchestra.
"Heart of the Universe" begins with “Song of Your Heart.” Possibly written for a child, the lyrics are simple but so heartfelt and filled with love that I really can’t imagine anyone not being moved by the tenderness of this song. The words to “Sanctuary” come from the writings of Guru Arjan, an ardent prayer offering a life of service to God. The title song conveys a message of hope and love that “pours forth from the heart of the Universe” - a favorite. I also really like “Soft Like Wax,” with Gurmukhi words from the writings of Guru Nanak and English words by Yogi Bhajan. The big, anthemic closing passage is incredible! “Just To Know You” is a stunning song of love and devotion that comes from deep within - the emotion conveyed is almost overwhelming. “Carry Me” is my favorite song on this album. A plea for peace and guidance over the waters of a world “so full of greed,” both the melody and words are an amazing expression of faith as well as vulnerability. The hauntingly beautiful “Again and Again” is more orchestrated with sweeping strings as well as piano and woodwinds - breath-taking! “Satigur Prasad” closes the album with a stirring chant backed with drums, piano, English horn, and pennywhistle.
I don’t review many vocal recordings anymore, but this one is something very special! It is available from www.PeterKater.com, www.SnatamKaur.com, Amazon, and iTunes. Very highly recommended!