Of all the acoustic new age artists currently calming our anxieties and uplifting our souls these days, there’s none whose fascinating background engages me as much as multi ZMR Award winner Shambhu, who released two beautiful, inspiring and uplifting singles this past spring in advance of his highly anticipated EP, also titled Life Passage. These pieces are perfect starting points to the full experience - the richly meditational “Life Passage,” a tender and soulful dedication to the late Chick Corea; and the sonically adventurous, dreamily atmospheric Mars Dawn,”
Growing up on The Beatles and Bill Evans and studying jazz and blues, spiritual minded music was far from his mind. Same with his earlier career, which encompassed writing scores for off Broadway shows, playing Brazilian music in Brazil and working with legends from numerous genres – from Carlos Santana and Paul McCandless to Eugene Friesen, Tony Levin, Jeff Haynes, Clarence Clemons and Narada Michael Walden.
One of the key parts of his evolution was becoming a modern day monk in his 20s, following the teachings of guru Sri Chinmoy with Santana, Walden and John McLaughlin. He realized that music could have a higher purpose and that each composition offered a chance to tap into something deeper within. His artist name Shambhu wasn’t simply rebranding to a cooler moniker when he began recording new age music. It was a way to reflect his commitment to a whole new life and way of understanding the world. “Shambhu” in the Hindu religion is one of the names for Lord Shiva, the aspect of his personality that connects with creation.
Life Passage is a thematic five track extension of his 2019 album Lilac Skies, which likewise stated the artist’s soul intention for the music under the title on the cover: “Soothing Guitar for a Peaceful World.” That underlying theme was in turn an extension of the title of his 2017 album Soothe. Amazingly, Shambhu was beginning to create this music long before one of the most challenging times in world history with the onset of the pandemic in 2020. Life Passage serves as more of a direct response to these anxious times.
Opening with the haunting and reflective yet ultimately hopeful ballad “Because of You” featuring a stunning intertwining of Shambhu’s guitar and Michael Manring’s seductive bass,” the collection was written and recorded, the guitarist says, “at a time in which the world is experiencing severe political, economic and environmental challenges.” More than ever, he adds, it’s crucial that we “nurture love, peace and calm within.” Anyone who listens – and you’ll definitely want to engage it all the way through multiple times to achieve an optimal calm and relaxed state – will surely agree with him that, “This music can help.”
Without a doubt, the first four songs on Life Passage (including those aforementioned and the lush, silky, acoustic piano (by Frank Martin) accented “Gentle Flower” truly capture the energy and intention of “Soothing Guitar for a Peaceful World.” Yet the most intriguing track is the final piece, the one Shambhu names after himself (“Shambhu”), whose artful fusion of Premik Russell Tubbs’ flute, Nelson Myers-Daly’s hypnotic Indian percussion and the artist’s acoustic guitar, bass and sitar feel joyously autobiographical. It’s a whimsical journey that stands out above the other lovely pieces on the collection as a passionate expression of Shambhu’s journey from jazz/rocker to a guide for us along a more enlightened new age path. It’s the multi-faceted creative place where he first felt the soothing of his soul, and it’s our blessing that he is now sharing it at a time when we’re most in need.
For more information:
Shambhu website: Shambhumusic.com