Using elements of folk, classical, and jazz, Manisha Shahane’s When Parallel Lines Meet is an eclectic and invigorating journey through countless international flavors. The Los Angeles-based singer/songwriter is a marvelous performer and her pristine vocals only prove that this sublime blending of sounds and tones is no accident.
Shahane’s sophomore release is a delicate mix of contemporary and traditional works. Like a global voyage with no limits, When Parallel Lines Meet is an adventure through cultures and countries that proves incredibly satisfying and energizing.
Shahane took her inspiration from her mother, Shirish, and began performing at the age of six. Hearing Indian songs around her childhood home served as a powerful form of inspiration as well and it wasn’t long before Manisha was studying classical piano and writing poetry. She sang with the Virginia All-State Chorus and attended the Governor’s School for the Arts, too, eventually studying with Charlie Banacos.
Listening to Shahane’s work, it’s not at all surprising that she’s lived and worked in a number of countries, including Austria, Singapore, Hungary, Israel, England, and India. Her international experiences have doubtlessly proved most influential.
The record begins with “Girls Gone World,” a smart and sassy bit of music that uses elements of Indian music. Shahane sings in English, French, German, and Japanese on the track and even tosses in some phrases in other dialects as well. She calls it “music of this universe” and effortlessly swings in Iyeoka Ivie Okoawo for some spoken-word portions for good measure.
When Parallel Lines Meet carries on with the jazz-tinged “Mother Don’t Cry” and “Remember This Day.” Both tracks make great use of Blake Newman’s upright bass with thick slabs of style. Shahane pulls us in with her piano playing, but it’s her clear vocals that really captivate.
Things take a turn with “Mrs. Underwood,” one of my favorite tracks on the album. A poignant folk number, the tune is a measured and evolving piece that allows Kevin Barry’s lap steel to shine. Shahane’s vocals still feature a wink of that Indian heritage, of course, and that makes her roots-tinged tone all the more intriguing.
Whether she’s singing in Hindi (“How Things Change”) or belting out soulful lyrics in English, Shahane proves to be a singer and songwriter worth taking note of. Her ability to draw listeners in with various styles is remarkable and many will be mesmerized by her transitions and the clarity of her tone. When Parallel Lines Meet is a unique experience, an album tinged with international flavor and the aroma of home.