The classically trained Indian singer Susheela Raman has one of the most haunting voices in world music today. It’s the kind of voice you could listen to for years and never tire of. Put her together with a couple of Tuvan throat singers, a kora player, and Afrobeat drum legend Tony Allen, and you’re basically in Guatemalan pants-wearing world music heaven.
Or you should be. Unfortunately Love Trap often mutes Raman’s uncontestable skills with gratuitous guitar coloring and overproduction. While there’s nothing bad about the album, its tone seems reserved and the songs tend to blend into each other. Even the percussive freakouts at the end of “Half Shiva Half Shakti” or “Manusoloni” leave you a bit cold.
That said, the best song here is the title track. Inspired by a 1960s hit by Ethiopian pop star Mahmoud Ahmed, “Love Trap” positively shimmies, and Raman swaggers through the lascivious lyrics. Her cover of Joan Armatrading’s “Save Me” is lovely, and her excursions into both North and South Indian classical songs can be inspired. However, while by no means unpleasant, unfortunately Love Trap is too often the reverse: simply pleasant.