by Dada Nabhaniilananda

reviewed by Daniel Haven


At long last, Dada Nabhaniilananda’s patient determination has delivered us a meticulously crafted album. Years in the making, The Return of the Magic is a collection of songs from a singer/songwriter/monk who has toured and performed widely for more than twenty years. The songs, recorded in England, USA, Norway and Brazil, benefit from superb production job by Devashish, who mixed the album in Puerto Rico.
 From the softly strummed opening chords, the restrained and tasteful instrumentation places the melody, the message and Dada’s warm voice at the heart of every track. The songs have an easy and immediate appeal. You may not expect such accessibility from a mystical monk, but Dada’s songs grab your attention like a smile. I found myself humming the chorus of “Perfect Love” after only one listen.
 Dada steers far from the course that has stranded many ‘new age’ artists on the cliffs of ambition and pretension. We are spared transcendental slush, philosophical mush and gaudy synths. These spiritual songs place love and devotion in re-assuring human contexts of friendship and closeness. “I know that you’re everywhere, I know that theory. But ’till I feel your hand in my hair, I remain weary,” sings Dada on “A Dream”.
 Dada lets us into his private universe on “No Distance” and “Lake Gardens”. These intimate songs ache with the kind of pain that is inseparable from all love, including the love for God: “If I could just recall exactly how you said my name, everything might be the same again,” from “Lake Gardens”.
 Fans of Dada’s special knack for epic songwriting, that made his debut CD “Warriors of the Rainbow” shine, will not be disappointed. On “Hou Yi Shot The Suns” and “The Chant of Permulwuy”, Dada introduces us to mythical heroes from China and pre-colonial Australia and makes their ancient struggle relevant to our struggle for justice today.
 Dada’s team on this CD deserves credit. Giita’s backup vocals are excellent throughout, and in a way define the soundscape. It’s used to great effect on “Remember Me”, a sunshiny celebration. Sukhadeva’s understated, virtuoso guitar never imposes on Dada’s voice. With several instrumental albums to his credit, Sukhadeva here concentrates on enhancing Dada’s melodies. The whole band delivers a tight performance.
 As the title track’s rousing chorus ends the album on an upbeat note, I can feel some of ‘the Magic’ Dada sings about linger, and the future, in these days of war and conflict, looks just a bit brighter.
 This article was printed in New Renaissance, Vol. 12, No. 1  Posted on the web on January 10, 2007