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Susheela Raman Music for Crocodiles Review

Album. Released 2005.  

BBC Review

The closing 'Leela' sounds like a song that Robert Plant would be happy to perform...

Martin Longley 2003

Music For Crocodiles is at once smoother, and more commercially orientated than its two predecessors, yet still has room for unexpected outbreaks of fuzzed-up guitar or cello.

It's more accessible because Raman chooses to sing a bigger proportion of songs in English, which is her native tongue, pushing her closer towards the singer-songwriter zone. Theres a soulful feeling that has its roots in her teenage days, when Raman was singing with blues bands in Sydney.

Although Susheela was born in London, she grew up in Australia, and spent time in India. Her original studies were within the world of Indian classical music, and this broad cultural experience lends Raman's music a gently schizophrenic quality, magnified by its production process. The basic tracks were laid down in Wiltshire, then Susheela and her guitarist/producer Sam Mills travelled to Chennai (Madras), where they recorded contributions by local classical players. Finally, the songs were mixed in Los Angeles.

The large roster of guest instrumentalists is always sensitively framing, supporting and embellishing Raman's expressive vocal lines. The Indian string trio parts soothe as they sweep around, whilst Cheick Tidiane Seck makes a significant contribution on purring Hammond organ.

The title track leads a small clutch of tunes that are essentially rock in structure, if not in their sonic palette. The closing "Leela" sounds like a song that Robert Plant would be happy to perform...

These melodies worm gradually into the consciousness, rather than being immediately catchy. The Indian traditional songs are held back until the end of the album, but it is noticeable how they allow for greater ornamentation in Raman's delivery, even though it's clear to see why she's chosen the English language path, opening up the possibility of increased mainstream radio-play.

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