‘SANTHOSAM’ (the Tamil word for ‘happiness’) is a standout dynamic album which takes her raguwavy sound – simmering R&B, masterful pop hooks, earthy soulful vocals, dance beats, and the warm tabla rhythms, and spiralling melodics of Tamil music – to even more adventurous heights. Defined by Priya’s contagiously positive spirit, it pulsates with gorgeously varied musical textures and urgent political themes. Once again crafted in collaboration with her brother and producer Japhna Gold, it’s an album that originates from Priya’s quest for self-discovery.
‘SANTHOSAM’ opens with ‘Ammama’s Note’, which features a voice recording in which Priya’s grandmothers is questioning why she isn’t married. Like many young South Asian women, Priya felt like she wanted to achieve much more before she settled down, regardless of other people’s preconceptions of what direction her life should take. That ability to write one’s own destiny continues the euphoric ‘School Me Like That’, set to a rumbling tambla beat and breezy synths. More universal issues are explored in the blazing anger of ‘Black Goose’, which was written in the wake of the murder of George Floyd and the Black Lives Matter protests, and ‘Let Me Breathe (Reprise)’, a spiritual call for freedom, emancipation, and peace.
Elsewhere, the record brims with highlight-after-highlight, taking in everything from the dancefloor disco energy of ‘One Way Ticket’ to ‘Power’ which features a rousing string arrangement that was written by Indian composer Bala and recorded with an orchestra in Budapest. It closes with ‘Mani Osai’, a song which continues a yearly family tradition in which Priya, Japhna and their father write a song together. Never intended to be a Priya Ragu track, it nonetheless felt like the perfect way to close the album – especially as the concluding “santhosam” chant conveys the meaning of the word with life-affirming zest.
Released: October 2023
School Me Like That
One Way Ticket
Hit The Bucket
Let Me Breathe