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Album Review: Little Boat by Ajay Mathur

Although I would love to say that I listen to all types of music, it’s not true; I tend to stick to the tried and true. But, every once in a while, I have an itch to hear something new, preferably something different. This is why I can honestly say that Little Boat, the 13-track album by Ajay Mathur, is a great break from my go-to playlists. Released on March 2nd of this year, it’s a pleasant, uplifting, and generally great record that most people will probably enjoy.

Having gone through a fairly difficult couple of months, Mathur’s theme of resilience interwoven throughout Little Boat strongly resonates with me. His music lifts my mood and puts an extra spring in my step, which is surprising, since the music is pretty different from what I normally gravitate toward. It’s not country, or pop, or even the blues, but a good mix between the three, with elements of rock and folk thrown in for good measure.

The hints of country music are particularly interesting, as Ajay Mather was born in India and currently resides in Switzerland. Yet, this man of the world is able to produce sounds that are distinctly Americana, which immediately add to the record's appeal and provide a sense of Mathur’s eclectic taste in music. “Here’s the Love” perfectly illustrates this point; from the vocals to the particular guitar sounds, I would have figured the song was written in Nashville.

“My Wallet is a House of Cards,” however, feels more like rock music characteristic of 1970s; it is more aggressive in its harmonies and vocals without crossing over into metal or punk music. And then there is the title track “Little Boat,” which feels distinctly different from the other two examples in that it’s slower, features what seems like a string instrument, and has a beautiful melody that is both relaxing and commanding of attention.

These differences in sound are actually very much explainable: “Ajay started off performing at some of the hottest clubs in New Delhi and Mumbai during the height of the 1970s. While some of the biggest international musicians from the West, including Jimmy Page and Don Cherry, were touring the country in pursuit of spiritual enlightenment, they joined Ajay onstage for unforgettable jam sessions that lasted through the night.”

The album features Ajay Mathur on guitars, vocals, backing vocals, keyboards, guitar, and field effects. Christian Winiker is responsible for the guitars, lap steel guitar, and bass, while Fausto Medici kills it on the drums and percussion in general. Last but not least, Gregory Schaerer is on bass; Dani Lauk is on blues harp, the Cajon accordion, and tin whistle; and Rupak Pundit is on tablas percussion. Check out more from the Grammy nominated musician and his amazing band here.

Note* Album provided for objective review by our partners.

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