Radhika Vekaria resists easy categorization. Her new single “Liberate” represents much more than the next step in her musical journey. It is the next iteration in her spiritual evolution. Spiritual influences and a deeper understanding of the natural world illuminate Vekaria’s projects, and “Liberate” carries on that tradition. It pushes on with her blending of Indian and Western influences, a mix that has become more refined and seamless with each new project. Vekaria’s journey has brought her in close quarters with assorted luminaries – she’s shared stages with artists as diverse as Paul McCartney and Rhianna, among others. Her talents are considerable enough not to shrink in their shadow.

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The musical body of the song is sparse and bare-bones. However, Vekaria’s “Liberate” comes across as painstakingly crafted as the artist lavishes attention on every infinitesimal detail. It doesn’t mean that it sounds labored over. Indeed, “Liberate” sounds as natural as breathing, and there’s a positively magical ambiance emanating from each second of the song.

The magic begins with the almost incantatory quality of Vekaria’s voice. The breathy delivery of the song’s initial lines transforms when the lyrical content traverses the divide between conversational writing and the more structured needs of the Maha Mritjunjaya mantra. This portion of the track is especially integral to Vekaria. She cites it as a key spiritual text enabling her to persevere through times of darkness and immense personal struggle, and it neatly dovetails with the earlier depiction of her searching spirit in much more commonplace language.

Her delivery of the manta is especially musical. She achieves a gently rolling rhythm in her cadence that carries listeners through this section. The song later evolves into another state when both dictions – the everyday and spiritual – run side by side through the mix. Her intent is clear. The spiritual subsumes the reality of everyday life until distinctions are erased, and all becomes one for her.

The musical accompaniment gathers momentum as the song progresses. Much of its early portion is spartan synthesizers, but it expands as the track plays on, adding understated percussion, and eventually placing her voice in a swirl of sound that ends the single on an exhilarating note. It achieves effervescent heights that elevate listeners without striking a false note. It’s an ultimately triumphant performance.

Her avowed intent behind the single is to frame her struggle and desire for transcendence. “Liberate” succeeds wildly on that score. It likewise lives and breathes as a vibrant work of musical art sure to entertain a vast swath of potential listeners. Vekaria’s gift for transforming possibly inaccessible material into songs with broad appeal cannot be praised too much. “Liberate” will touch the casual and devoted, the newcomer and longtime fan alike.

Her art shows no signs of strain or exhaustion. She hasn’t been in the arena for long, but Vekaria writes and produces work that makes steep emotional and mental demands on the artist. She responds to each one. “Liberate” distinguishes her as one of the foremost figures active in world music today, and she shows no signs of slowing down.  

Garth Thomas