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June 2006

Susheela Raman
Music for Crocodiles
Narada Media

So this is what crocodiles listen to: love songs sung in English and 18th-century Tamil lyrics from south India over a tasty concoction of agreeable, light R&B and jazz grooves. Susheela Raman, born in London to Tamil parents, is a singer and songwriter who sounds a bit like Dido but is more in line with a long list of Beat-style poets.

Recorded in London, Los Angeles and Chennai, India, Raman’s third CD isn’t the first or last to mix traditional Indian sounds with Western themes. But Music for Crocodiles is notable for Raman’s folkish tunes sung in three languages: English, Indian Tamil and even French. All the while, steady percussion from Djanuno Dabo, soft guitar from Sam Mills and tabla from Aref Durvesh embellish Raman’s tunes with the required exotic personality to make them just different enough to catch your attention.

Even with all the richness of the CD’s tones, Raman is best on a tune like “The Same Song,” where it’s simply her hushed voice, light percussion and beautiful finger-style guitar picking.

Originally published in June 2006
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