Manika Kaur has a comforting voice that she unfurls when singing Sikh kirtans (spirituals and prayers). The music is gently flowing, layered, and touched with drone and chants that are hallmarks of kirtans. The album features contributions from tabla and electronica pioneer Talvin Singh, as well as Western and Indian classical performers including Rakhesh Chaurasia on bansuri/flute and Jyostna Srikanth on violin. “When I discovered kirtan as a girl, it was a different feeling from any other music I had known,” reflects Kaur in her press release. “Kirtan brings a sense of peace. You’re singing the most beautiful love letters to God. It’s so deep and beautiful.” She is a devout Sikh, and her music flows from the songs and sacred stories her family shared as she was growing up in Australia. She currently makes her home in Dubai. “We’d sit after dinner, and my brothers and sisters and I would sing and play tabla and harmonium. It was very informal,” recalls Kaur. “My parents would tell us stories that would keep us strong and motivated. When we had these jam sessions, it was like CPR for soul.” She made home recordings of the melodies and music that she heard in her mind while doing prayers. “The tunes pop into my head in the prayer room,” says Kaur, explaining her process. “I start singing the prayer instead of speaking it.” This spirituality led to recording of this album. She takes the simplicity of kirtans and expands them into complex and moody arrangements. The flow of sound is imbued by violin in “Aukhee Gauree,” flute in “Gur Ram Das Rakho Sarnaee” (a song dedicated to the fourth Sikh guru), and the Indian zither called swarmandal in the chant “I Bow to You.” These instruments add a warm texture to each kirtan. The meditative music retains the calm even when Talvin Singh’s tabla or Bernhard Schimpelsberger’s percussion check in. Kaur is committed to using all proceeds from her music to further charitable causes. This album will support S.O.S., an education initiative for Sikh children. For more details visit www.manikamusic.com.