Jerusha Rai dazzles in "A Dark Place to Think"

Jerusha Rai peforming in London. File Photo
Jerusha Rai peforming in London. File Photo

There is this generation of Nepali youth that grew up with her music.

A singer, composer and musician who spent her childhood absorbing the typical social absurdities in Nepal, spent her early youth as a rising talent in London and has much recently moved to the US, Jerusha Rai released her maiden album, A Dark Place to Think, a couple of months ago.

Having known her for so many years, both on and off stage,  I can precisely say that she can set the stage on fire with her dazzling performance. Here I explore the bright and dark sides of her latest 'place to think'!

Jerusha rose to online stardom with her very first YoutTube performance about her dog "Jimi", in which her expressions reached a rare high in 2012 and is still one of her best. Anyone akin to her kind of indie melody is bound to expect similar numbers in her very first album.

A good news for that mindset of audience comes as the sixth title "Farmers in the Sky" and to some extent also in the second number "Sway".

To be honest, Jerusha's formative years in composing can be found intact in "Farmers in the Sky" -- essentially because she did this one more than two years ago. Yes, we have listened to this indie number for years now, in one of her SoundCloud posts jamming with the band "Highstreet". One might, however, feel a bit deceived, if I may say so, for the version in the album lacks the spontaneity offered in the original post, previously presented in a much raw and rustic format she is best known for. It also relaxes in tempo this time and one wonders why. I'd say it's just our mindset so unwelcoming of change?

As something she is putting together for the very first time, Jerusha's effort does sound too focused in bringing out an album. This but turns into a forgettable glitch once the album excels in presenting the best from her career's more recent addiction and how!

In the last five years or so, Jerusha seems to be completely indulged packaging her signature trippy tunes in a much hard-hitting electronica, if one compares to her earlier softer versions like the most popular "Oblivion" (which we sorely miss in her very first album. Perhaps it was the right not to have it here). Her career-best attempt with electronica was perhaps her original number "Crazy". Shadows of which do reappear in the lusty rhythms of the fourth number "Wolverine", with the kind of lyrics most representative of the middle-class.

If you are by now wondering why I am comparing one Jerusha number with the other and doing that to no end, yes, this is Jerusha Rai's music for you -- original and unique.

You can find her experimenting all the time but not following a stereotype. And that holds true in more than one faculties she likes dirtying her hands. Yes, dirtying is the word, where the talented musician breaks beliefs and a much articulate lyricist in her finds pride in being oneself. The end product is always but soothing and serene, and the album does relive this one tradition to say the least.

She rests her case this time with the seventh number "Parade", quite an uncommon theme for her but proving her mettle as a composer in the way she picks up and ends this particular number. You will have to listen to those ends in order to experience a more mature musician in her.

If you're already wondering why I didn't speak about the first title in the album, it's because it's a surprise package. In this, Jerusha lets go one more edge of her affiliation from the music world, and in her personality in general, which is her understanding of ethnomusic. Titled as "Native Stranger", it clearly fits the bill from every perspective.

The remaining two titles "Sirens" (third) and "Little Gods" (fifth) reveals a completely new Jerusha. I for one, do not remember when Jerusha Rai tried this kind of attitude while singing. She almost blends to some African style within her space, and tries to recreate her own universe. Interestingly, she does this with an aplomb, as if she's always been doing it behind the scenes. This again is a welcome change but perhaps will see more refinement and resurrection in her next phase of making music we are yet to listen.

Bring it on, J !!!


Album: A Dark Place to Think

Total songs: 7

Available on: iTunes, Spotify, YouTube

Singer/Lyricist/Composer: Jerusha Rai

Jerusha Rai peforming in London. File Photo
Jerusha Rai peforming in London. File Photo

Photo Credits: Antonio Nodar & 'Busk For Nepal' team