Anoushka Shrestha, better known as Anoushka Maskey, is a singer-songwriter who shuffles between Sikkim, Bangalore and Mumbai. Anoushka Maskey utilizes a lyrics-first approach to her songwriting and she embellishes her poetry with her acoustic guitar and ukulele skills. She actually plays a right handed guitar upside down. You can see her humming on that gorgeous Epiphone in any of her YouTube videos. The songstress from Sikkim has poured out a smorgasbord of her lockdown emotions about various topics in her debut EP “Things I Saw in a Dream”.
The EP is a DIY effort which was recorded and produced at home (aatmanirbhar). The tracks only feature her vocals accompanied by the acoustic guitar (ukulele on the EP closer). Anoushka Maskey’s sound, as well as songwriting, connotes a warm, and almost nostalgic feel. Basing her songwriting on day-to-day events, she wishes to build a relationship of relatability with her listeners. With her roots set in folk music and a fondness for storytelling, you will often find anecdotes and references to incidents that inspired her music, in her lyrics. All that said, let’s check out what her EP sounds like.
“Flesh and Bone” is a great introductory track. It features a beautiful acoustic melody with Anoushka Maskey’s dreamy voice layered over it. When she sings “nothing like the warmth of flesh and bone”, you can literally feel it in your flesh and bones. Inspired by the restlessness of the lockdown, “Flesh and Bone” is a wonderful indicator of what’s about to come.
The second track “Trampoline” establishes the unique and distinct way in which Anoushka sings her lyrics. She is distinct in the same way that Dolores O’ Riordan of the Cranberries was. She enunciates certain words in her own unique way and that really makes the words far more melodious. Her voice helps you float through her dreamscape. If there were any doubts about her distinctiveness and originality, they need to be left behind.
The third track “Just Like the Ocean” continues the slow and relaxed cruise into Anoushka’s dreamscape. Her vocal delivery is as smooth as gentle ocean currents washing against your feet as you stand ashore on a starry night. The track concludes with a wonderfully whistled melody.
The fourth track also happens to be the title track of the EP. Anoushka’s vocals in this song sound a bit more dreamy than usual. It makes sense as this song is a result of Anoushka listing out peculiar things that visited her in her dreams and turning it into something musical. Definitely deserving of being the title track.
The fifth track on the EP “Whole World in a Bag” was born as a result of Anoushka’s heart crying out for the migrant workers forced to walk back home because of the lockdown. “No there’s no sign of aid when I wake up…my whole world in a bag that I’ve packed up”. Heart rendering stuff.
The sixth track on the EP “Hold on to the Good” is about living your life with a “glass half full” mentality. “What wakes you from the darkest dreams? What lights you when it’s harder to see?” Well, this song from now on.
The final track of the EP, “Intervals” has been performed using a ukulele and Anoushka Maskey showcases her skill on that instrument as well. The lyrics are most likely about the age of social distancing that we are living in. Devoid of human contact, Anoushka Maskey croons “a touch, now a luxury”. She concludes the song and the EP by asking us “I need only a minute of your time, is that alright?” It most definitely is. Anoushka Maskey’s amazing songwriting skills are definitely worth every music lover’s time.
If you are looking for deep, meaningful lyrics layered on a bed of beautiful, minimalist acoustic music, look no further than Anoushka Maskey’s “Things I Saw in a Dream”.
Verdict: A great combination of lyrical eloquence and musical minimalism.