Countless singer-songwriters write and perform songs about love lost, heartbreak, or other personal issues. Anoushka Shankar has opted for the road not–or at most seldom–taken with her new album, Land of Gold.
In some ways it echoes her father Ravi Shankar’s and George Harrison’s 1971 The Concert for Bangladesh, a benefit concert, subsequent album, and documentary film to help seven million refugees displaced by the Bangladesh Liberation War, as well as the victims of famine, cyclone, and flooding. That album featured top stars like Ringo Starr, Bob Dylan, Eric Clapton, Billy Preston, and Leon Russell. Sarod virtuoso Ali Akbar Khan also was there on the stage of Madison Square Garden, before a crowd of over 40,000 people.
Anoushka was inspired to make Land of Gold after witnessing all the recent news and images of people fleeing civil war, oppression, poverty, and unbearable hardship. She said of the album that, “It coincided with the time when I had recently given birth to my second child. I was deeply troubled by the intense contrast between my ability to provide for my baby, and others who desperately wanted to provide the same security for their children but were unable to do so.” I read her words and reflect on the conflict and humanitarian crisis we’ve all been seeing in the news for some time, including the tragic and indelible image of the drowned three-year old Kurdish boy on the beach.
The new album features a variety of musicians, including M.I.A., Manu Delago playing the UFO-like hang, Alev Lenz, and others. There is also spoken word from Vanessa Redgrave. Songs include “Boat to Nowhere“, “Last Chance“, “Jump In (Cross the Line) [feat. M.I.A.],” and others. The new CD, though dealing with human tragedy, is filled with hope and is an affirmation of our best humanitarian values.