[Review] One Zero – The essence of Nitin Sawhney

Nitin Sawhney’s music is the sound of the post-globalization world, a planet flattened by connectivity and connectedness. And while Sawhney might be of Indian origin, but his music is anything but. Instead, it is a blend of influences from around the planet — samba, flamenco, guitar, and sitar. Nitin’s music is the soundtrack for the lives of a growing tribe — for whom the home and identity are fluid — forever changing and constantly evolving. I think of him as Dylan of the 21st century.

… a poet, a musician who is not hide bound by a style, a geography or an instrument. An artist who sees the human agony in simple human terms. Nitin is one musical maestro who can inspire a symphony of emotions.

Nitin’s music has been part of my immigrant journey, constant reminder of my past but always pointing to a world that is waiting. His song Anthem Without Nation (from the sublime and nuanced Beyond Skin) almost always results in a quiet tear  — for it captures the infinite aloneness of someone who leaves everything behind. Who and where do you belong — that feeling is hard to describe — and somehow Nitin manages to turn that into music. I have each one of this nine albums — and the tenth one is going to come later year.

Last week, Sawhney released his newest album, One Zero. It is a direct-to-vinyl album, which includes four new tracks plus some of his more popular tracks. Direct to vinyl means he performed in front of a live audience in a studio and that is the final output. No overdubs, no autotunes, no artificial polish. I like to think of it as a farm-to-table version of music.

One Zero is the essence of Sawhney’s sound — his music, shorn of all veneer. It is raw, it is moving and it is brilliant.T his is the music that just cuts through your soul. Instrumentation is appropriately minimalist — there to enhance the emotion and not to take away from the impact music was and is supposed to make.

There is one track that is a complete standout for me are Nadia (which is one of Nitin’s biggest hits) — Nicki Wells voice is so softly melodic that it transports you to a whole different place. The symbiotic relationship between drums and tabla that are the highlight of OneZero are best showcased on Nadia. And there is I Ask You, featuring Joss Stone. The minimal music is there to simply focus on what is important — Ms. Stone and her voice. I could listen to this song for the rest of my life.

There are many brilliant  tracks — Sunset, Henrecia Light, Letting Go and Noches En Vela — and it is hard to play favorites. I have spent the entire day listening to it and let’s just say — I can’t tell you which track to skip. This is who is Nitin Sawhney, the musician! Buy it! 

A letter from Om

Sign up & get it delivered to your inbox