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February 8, 2023

Nagavalli: “Guru”

By: Jack Anderson

When we think about the impact that Indian music has had here in Texas, most folks would knee-jerk react by pointing to Norah Jones, the Grapevine-raised, UNT-educated daughter of sitar legend Ravi Shankar. but obviously, despite Jones’ enormous talent, she’s not really who we look to when we want to hear authentic Eastern influences. For that, we gotta give it up for Mumbai-raised, Austin-based singer-songwriter Nagavalli.

Nagavalli Medicharla made her mononymous debut in 2012 with Eastern Soul, a term she also applies to her boundless Eastern-meets-Western/traditional-meets-modern style. In the decade since Eastern Soul, Nagavalli’s interpolated Twelfth Night in a Bollywood style, earned an Austin Music Award nomination, and taken on roles as both Board Chair of EQ Austin and Vice Chair of the Austin Music Foundation. And on Friday, following up her ambitious 2019 endeavor Immersion, this invaluable international asset to our creative community re-embraces the spirit of cross-cultural unification with her next full-length, Numinosum.

Numinosum combines the best-sounding bits of Eastern spirituality with pop, rock, jazz, and more, thanks to a dream team backing band and intriguing arrangements that showcase their fair share of world/ethnic instrumentation. Numinosum packages passionate English-language originals next to an Eliza Gilkyson cover, a Durga invocation, and even a couple Indo-Pak classics. Nagavalli celebrates the release of Numinosum 5PM today for a free in-store performance at Waterloo Records and again 8PM this Saturday at The Paramount along with KUTX favorites BettySoo, Carrie Rodriguez, and Oliver Rajamani as well as familiar faces Patrice Pike and Indrajit Bannerjee. Unless you’ve mastered astral projection, beating traffic to attend both shows might be a bit of a stretch. But you can slay the demon that is Hump Day with “Guru”, a pocket-raga that transcends language through ethereal orchestration and entrancing dynamics.


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