Many artists have to record several albums before they find their expression. It is all part of the process, and there is no way to rush it. But for debut artist Svara that unique and defining sound is there from the very first song. In her music is a rare sensibility to the enormity of space and creation itself, without Vangelis-like synths and grand effects. Svara’s easygoing take on New Age pop is both refreshing and inspiring, underlining that this is an artist to follow in the years to come.
Nan Davies, known professionally as Svara, is an American singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist. Born into a musical family and raised in the San Francisco area, Svara began piano lessons at age 5, guitar at age 12, voice at age 13 and composed her first piano piece at age 10. She later studied music and art at university while continuing to write songs and perform as a duo with her guitarist brother. Svara went on to perform with numerous bands in various genres. “SVARA” was co-produced by New Age music veteran Joaquin Lievano.
Look to the Empty Sky
The first thing you will notice with Svara’s soundscape is its incredible lightness. It is uncomplicated, often not more than a gentle rhythm, guitar and textures, giving plenty of room for her vocal. “Look to the Empty Sky” is a beautiful album opener. It embodies the feeling we get when watching a spectacular sunset or stargazing. What do you do then? You reach up, of course, as illustrated on the cover. This is also what Svara sings. She has a lovely voice that fits this soundscape splendidly. The electric guitar is stunning.
Next out is “Caravan of Light”. The feeling of movement is present from the very beginning. If you close your eyes, you can “see” the landscape come to life in your imagination. Svara’s music is highly visual, and this caravan of light will take you wherever you want to go. The mixing is masterful; notice Svara’s vocalization and the eclectic use of instruments. It is a caravan I would love to ride again and again.
“Dandelion Skies” is about the magic of childhood. Again, I’m amazed by how Svara “paints” a landscape with lyrics and music; soft and gentle strokes, making it all come alive in vibrant colors. Most striking is the sense of freedom and space. Svara’s vocal is larger-than-life, as if Mother Earth herself is talking.
“Lunar Bounce” is a fascinating Chill piece! It captures the magic of space. Instead of describing it as a cold nothingness, Svara fills it with a sense of adventures – like a well-written sci-fi novel or a Pink Floyd song. I very much enjoy the selection of vocal and instrumental pieces. It is important for a New Age artist to do instrumental pieces well. Just look at Enya, who has made many beautiful instrumental pieces in her time.
On “Zen Blossoms” we are safely back on earth. It is a colorful piece filled with mystery and intrigue. I very much enjoy the percussion and how it is impossible to tell where “Zen Blossoms” is going to end.
“In Beauty May You Walk” is a ballad with a wonderful guitar solo backed by well-made synth segments. Next out is the epic “Cascade”, which is capable of transforming any gray day into a firework of colors and impressions. This part of the album is fantastic!
Nature and the feeling of space is, as I wrote above, essential on “SVARA”. “Cloud Gazing” makes us reflect of what’s out there, and how small we humans are – before “We Are the Wave” inspires us to see the possibilities for change through social and cultural transformation. “Shakti’s Dance” makes sure that the album ends on a high note. I’m not going to give any spoilers; the ending is a bit surprising, showing that Svara is not afraid of exploring different sounds and expressions.
In conclusion: These days, when we almost drown in music on platforms such as YouTube and Spotify – it is rare to find an artist with a unique expression. There is always so much to choose from, and, at the end of the day, it all sounds the same. But to me, Svara is a one-of-a-kind artist – and her debut album leaves me wanting more. “SVARA” is a stunning collection of songs with high replay value. Her New Age pop/crossover sound with rhythm gives it broad appeal. It is also recorded with skill and love, and I’m sure the fantastic Joaquin Lievano has played an important role in how the album came to be.
We all should take Svara’s advice and “Look to the empty sky”. There are answers to be found there.