Sanjeeta has previously been pegged as a jazz vocalist, mainly because she spent quite a while in Delhi cronning jazz standards at cover gigs. She does have a voice that straddles the territory between Norah Jones and Portishead, and it lends itself well to the jazz pipes. However, as she has clarified multiple times in multiple interviews, she is not JUST a jazz singer. This Berklee College of Music graduate has a wildly diverse foundation in musical training (from Hindustani classical to gospel and R&B). And she intends to use all of it.
Her new single Red is an expression of this experimental instinct. She wings her way into neo-soul and hip-hop, collaborating with fellow Berklee grads – Malagasy singer-songwriter, Niu Raza and Boston based guitarist and producer Aman Sagar. They are accompanied by Delhi based producer and Pakshe keyboardist Pranay Parti.
This curious ensemble presents a breezy, spirited musicality which frames introspective lyrics. In Sanjeeta’s own words, the song ponders over “how important it is to spend time learning about oneself because it’s easy to lose that perspective as you chase the conventional idea of success. Music binds you firmly to the ground when you lose your feet.”
Sanjeeta manages to combine a lovely voice with wonder-inducing words: “I know I am wasting my time on you/ You make me wanna make more time (x2)”. Sanjeeta’s rap leaves much to be wanted, and she isn’t exactly in the flow. But given that it is her first foray into the vaulted genre, she could probably be forgiven.
Niu Raza’s rhyme is more practiced, and her voice triumphs with dollops of vocal honey. There is a delicious smear of sax and trumpet punctuating the song, offering Parisian indie club vibes, syncopated with warm, unobtrusive beats built for balance.
Red is a charming single, and marks Sanjeeta’s desire to establish her artistic versatility. She is off to a good start; a few moments of awkwardness notwithstanding. As a home-grown, remotely produced, international collaboration with musicians based in three countries- Madagascar, U.S.A and India- there is plenty to be praised here.