There has always been a recognizable quality in the music of Krishna Das, a not-so-secret secret that the mantras, names, and prayers that he is so deeply established in, adopted during his years in India, have a deep undercurrent of Western familiarity. His voice reminds one of Johnny Cash or Leonard Cohen, his melodies, even his re-workings of traditional chants or prayers, seamlessly borrow from American blues and folkand comfortably reference gospel classics like "Amazing Grace" and "Jesus On The Mainline". His music effortlessly captures the spirit of both East and West, the kirtan wallah of India and the wayfaring stranger of America.
With the release of his 14th album, Kirtan Wallah—one who sings kirtan, KD offers a westward-leaning album, fully embracing his American roots in rock and country and yet embodying the spirit of deeply devotional Indian chants. There are some traditional melodies for sure—the opening Radhe Govinda chant sounds as though it would be right at home in a temple, his rich baritone voice and harmonium leading the response. But at its heart, this album is a natural confluence of KD's musical streams, bansuri flute weaving its way through acoustic guitars and country swing, and tabla and kartals underscoring melodies that would fit well in the Townes Van Zandt catalog.