Love Trap by Susheela Raman
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For this follow-up to her 2001 debut, (Salt Rain
, which won a BBC Radio 3 World Music Award and was certified Gold in France), Raman continues to build on her tried-and-true formula. Born in Britain to South Indian parents, her Tamil birthright did not preclude an attraction to Western pop and she explores this duality throughout the album. The title tune is a back-room, jazzy rendering of an urban Ethiopian hit--it and a sexy cover of Joan Armatrading's "Save Me" are the only English-language tracks. The other nine offer a far-flung mélange of languages, constituting a dream journey during which the chanteuse's silky, flexible alto encounters trip-hop, Tuvan throat singing, sinuous Indian classical ornamentation, and assorted African influences. As modern electronica flickers amid age-old acoustic instruments with unexpectedly felicitous results, it becomes clear that Raman has achieved a study in contrasts that is also a primer for inclusion. --Christina Roden