Amanda Homi | Till I Reach Bombay

February 20, 2014

You may make the same mistake I did and judge this album by its cover. To me, this looks like traditional Indian music performed by an American trying to connect with her homeland. I mean, doesn’t it? Instead, let me debunk that notion immediately.

Amanda Homi’s Till I Reach Bombay is a delicious fusion of sounds, soaked in Indian instrumentation, but she sings in Spanish, integrates funk, folk, and Afro-pop. Many of the songs are catchy and lyrically on point. She’s a great songwriter and a great singer. Her band is rich with harmoniums, kanjira, and tabla, just to name a few.

The New York City-based musician is very spiritual, so she takes off into the wider questions of the universe, but in doing so poetically, she also narrows in on details of life. For instance, the powerful “Shoes”, with its Latin vibe, is irresistible, and some of the best songwriting I’ve witnessed in a while. “You left me here/ barefoot and naked,” she sings. “My shoes don’t fit.” The airy chorus beams and the song continues with Amanda saying, “I got plenty of my own shoes/ thigh high boots/ won’t take away my blues.”

On the politically-embedded “Dancing Girls”, the band keeps to a funky Indian groove with Amanda suggesting, “She is high as the sky/ and just as deep/ she’ll take you around the world.” The song speaks of women free to dance, and unlike a Top 40 song about hittin’ da club, Amanda’s dancers dance with meaning.

Even her love songs shine. “Senseless” is poetry. “I’m deaf/ to the warning bells,” she sings; “I’m weak and defenseless/ You left me senseless.” She keeps her focus on the metaphors, wrapping heart in a slow but charged ballad. The band supports her excellently. Here, the bass slightly builds and the oud fills in the gaps.

“Danger Be Damned” is light, too, (she never gets heavy), with accordion weaving us from the intro to Amanda singing, “The boys are coming from Astoria/ Strike up the band/ carnations and white gardenias.” Amanda, throughout her worldly travels, paints vivid backdrops for her songs.

An artist that can bridge traditional sounds, genre blending, and pop sensibility- while writing good lyrics- is refreshing. If you enjoy worldly vibes and good songwriting, as well as songs for sunny afternoons, taste Till I Reach Bombay. It’s a travelogue that shows our desires, passions, and strengths are universal. Amanda rocks it.

Bottom line: Mixing Egyptian, Indian, America, and Latin vibes, this album is rich with sounds, good songwriting, and a beautiful voice. Dig in.