By Joesph Purcell
Simi Sohota – the leader of San-Francisco based, Healing Potpurri – wants to make songs that make us feel good, to dance to and get lost in. Over eleven tracks on new long play, Blanket of Calm, Sohota and his seven strong backing band produce a gentle traverse through a summer-tinged record of comfort and healing. Sohota, inspired to bring together elements of pop, ambient music and new age, acts as the central anchor around which the buoyant flow of brisk hooks, sprightly bass and funky saxophones flow.
With inspirations as varied as Mort Garson’s Mother Earth Plantasia and Steely Dan, Blanket of Calm is an engaging and ambitious record, arriving on the cusp of the long hazy months ahead. Sohota’s vision was to create an album akin to his influences, and more spacious than his previous recordings. ‘I’ve always been attracted to beautiful music more than anything else, and I wanted an outlet to try and write music like that,’ Sohota explains. ‘I love ambient loops, collages, very calming music, but I also love pop music and I wanted to blend those things together and apply that meditative, introspective element to pop songs.’
Sohota’s skill of creating lyrically rich moments over expansive backdrops is evident throughout. Opener, Dream Vacay, introduces the plethora of musicians as if the opening number from a live show. Laney is a serene yet infectious four minutes of gleaming summer pop – its beautiful vocals fall into a blend of instrumentation on a definite highlight, while La Vida Tranquila is a subtle nod to the influence of Burt Bacharach from Sohota’s youth.
Yet it is on the immediately catchy Think About Us that we hear Blanket of Calm’s best moment – which feels akin to Brian Wilson channelled through Stuart Murdoch. This brand of pop music, one feels, is Sahota’s aim: a perfect representation of his image, and with all working parts in unison to tremendous effect. Unfortunately, this does not last and at times the record begins to drift, as too many of the competing influences grip hold. Some of the direction dissipates and it occasionally falls into a floating melange, lacking the focus and quality of the album’s finer moments.
These lapses aside, it is a definite progression from Healing Potpourri and its highpoints showcase an extremely talented array of musicians. It just seems that sometimes too many ideas, if not realised properly, can divide time away from the better ones, and as a result turn an excellent album into merely a good one.
Secret Meeting score: 70
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