Love Trap

COMPOSERS: Susheela Raman
LABELS: Narada World
WORKS: Love Trap
PERFORMER: Susheela Raman (voice)
CATALOGUE NO: 83041

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The unclassifiable singer-songwriter SUSHEELA RAMAN, brought up by Tamil parents in London and Australia, had a success with her first album in 2001 though this columnist didn’t like it enough to include it. Her follow-up is stronger. There’s a surprising start with a piece based on an Ethiopian song and turned into up-front, superior pop.

Raman, who is quite a performer, relishes the sexuality and pumps out the words like a successor to Shirley Bassey. In that sense it’s the best track, because in the following numbers, which work like a journey further and further into south Indian music and end with straight traditional percussion, she grows more restrained and self-conscious.

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It’s a thought-through and carefully delivered exploration of experience, with a surfeit of guests, some more pertinent than others, so that halfway in you can’t easily tell where the music stands. Verdict: thinking is a fine thing, but performance is what counts.