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CD Review: Hui Ward – The Way (Self-released)

hui wardI have to admit reviewing this CD by Hui Ward was one of the more interesting assignments I’ve had in quite awhile, but also one of the most rewarding. Singer/songwriter Hui Ward has managed to come up with a wonderful debut CD inspired by her inner dialogue with the Universal Mother and featuring an intruiging musical hybrid combining traditonal Indian music with elements of house, pop, trance and New Age. Since my listening experince with most of these genres is limited, reviewing this CD properly seemed to be quite the daunting task. I mean, up to about three years ago my entire previous exposure to Indian music mainly consisted of (and I kid you not) one-off songs by bands of the ’60’s who experimented with Indian music because they were influenced by the Beatles’ use of Indian instruments and influences on their album Revolver, most notably the song “Norwegian Wood.” I mean, the Beatles’ song “Norwegian Wood” was a hugely influential song back in the day as no other mainstream band had embraced Eastern musical influences and turned them into a pop song complete with sitar and tabla before the Fabs’ attempt. That the song is regarded as a classic and many other bands copycatted them to record their own Indian music-flavored psychedelic rock only proves the point of the accessibility of Indian music if blended with a form familiar to listeners. Thankfully, over the past couple of years, I’ve checked out a few Indian-influenced rock and funk artists (Ananda Shankar being one) and found a decent amount of similarities between Ward’s music and some of the other American pop/rock-influenced Indian artists to which I’ve listened. In fact, if Shankar had just started making his brand of funk today, I believe it would sound much like Ward’s music as it has quite a bit of dance and funk influences.