FINDING SERENITY IN ADVERSITY: WELCOME TO THE JUNGLE SESSIONS
Experiencing the music on The Jungle Sessions is like being immersed into an easygoing tropical idyll—warm, convivial, relaxing. It’s the perfect balm for our troubled, uncertain times. The best kind of balm, actually, for the respite it offers is one of mindful awareness—a musical celebration of life’s joy and beauty written during a period of pandemic lockdown.
Like so many around the world, singer/songwriter/guitarist Miten had to shelter in place in early 2020, as the COVID-19 virus spread across the globe. That put an end to the nearly non-stop touring he had been doing as one half of mantra music’s beloved power couple, Deva Premal and Miten, whose artistry has been inspiring, energizing and enrapturing the yoga/meditation/wellness community since the ’90s. But now COVID and karma had landed the couple amid the verdant beauty of the Costa Rican jungle at the bucolic Blue Spirit Meditation Centre. There they turned pandemic lockdown into a restorative time
of meditation, reflection and of course musicmaking. The splendor and serenity of the natural surrounding began seeping into the set of songs which would emerge as The Jungle Sessions.
Miten’s incisive songcraft, earthy voice and supple guitar work are the main focus of the album—the third in a trilogy that includes his previous solo discs Temple at Midnight (2016) and Devotee (2019). But his beloved musical and life partner Deva was also integral to the creation of The Jungle Sessions, her dulcet voice is woven throughout this gemlike set of tracks.
Their musical heartplay is at the core of the album’s opening track. “Rain of Blessings/Ra Ma Da Sa.” When an enormous thunderstorm broke out during a group meditation session one day, Miten took it as a blessing rather than an interruption or distraction. He captured the beauty and magic of the moment in a song. Gently plucked strings create a hushed, hypnotic pulse over which Miten sings tuneful stanzas of gratitude, joy and wonder. Deva provides the melodic counterpart with a graceful setting of the Sikh healing mantra Ra, Ma, Da, Sa. It makes for a perfect yin/yang symmetry, as the two themes and the duo’s layered, love-matched voices intertwine.
Miten takes center stage for the next five tracks on The Jungle Sessions, which, like all the songs on the album, were created with producer, multi-instrumentalist and frequent Deva and Miten collaborator Joby Baker. Recording took place in the El Silencio meditation room at Blue Spirit. Like much of Miten’s solo work, these songs are grounded in his deep roots in the singer/songwriter genre. As such, they draw more broadly from pop music influences than his more mantra-based Deva and Miten body of work.
An understated reggae feel underpins “Om Shanti” and “I Need a Beach.” The former finds Miten singing out for the Earth’s downtrodden and unfortunate, “singing out from the power of love,” in a lyric that seems cut from the same cloth as the Bob Dylan classic “Chimes of Freedom.” And “I Need a Beach” is the cry of a man seeking refuge from a troubled world. An undercurrent of deeply felt emotion runs throughout Miten’s relaxed vocal delivery.
“Still Awake” is a tour de force of lilting acoustic guitar balladry, complete with an opulently warm-hued orchestral arrangement. There’s a sweet, gospel-inflected r&b vibe to “Never Give Up On Love,” while “Just a Little More” boasts a brassy Stax-inspired horn chart. Baker’s soulful Hammond B3 organ work provides a key sonic touchstone on many of the tracks. Miten’s own nimble electric and acoustic guitar rhythms underpin the entire album, punctuated by lyrical solo passages that sparkle like sunlight.
The album concludes with a stripped-down, live reprise of the opening track, “Rain of Blessings/Ra Ma Da Sa,” Miten and Deva’s voices intertwining once again, calling us back to our hearts, back to love, back to the grace to see miracles and beauty, even in adversity.
The Jungle Sessions constitute a welcome addition to the deep catalog of
stylistically diverse and always impeccably crafted music that Miten has created both as a solo artist and in tandem with Deva Premal.
—Alan di Perna
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
One of America’s foremost rock scribes, Alan di Perna has been writing professionally about popular music and culture since 1980. Born in Brooklyn, New York, he came of age during the heady cultural explosion that was the psychedelic ’60s and first emerged as a rock musician and writer amid the exuberant cross-genre hedonism of New York’s early ’80s post punk scene. His writing about music combines a musician’s technical insight, a scholarly depth of critical acumen, a keen feel for cultural contexts and an engaging, streetwise style. Several generations of rock fans and musicians have grown up reading his insightful take on everything from the blues to punk rock to world music.
Di Perna has authored thousands of articles on music and musicians in leading periodicals such as Billboard, Creem, Musician, Rolling Stone, Grammy.com, Music Aficionado, Keyboard, Guitar Player, Guitar World, Guitar Aficionado, Guitarist, Rock & Folk, the San Francisco Examiner Magazine and Yoga Journal. He is best known for his memorable interview features on a wide variety of musical icons including Keith Richards, B.B. King, Ray Charles, David Bowie, Carlos Santana Jeff Beck, Prince, Pete Townshend, Quincy Jones, Baba Maal, McCoy Tyner, Buddy Guy, Yoko Ono, Robert Plant, Jimmy Page, Tom Petty, Johnny Rotten, Pete Seeger, Ringo Starr, Stanley Clarke, Ziggy Marley, Dr. John and Frank Zappa, among others.
A Contributing Editor of Guitar World magazine since the late ‘80s, di Perna also enjoys a longstanding professional relationship with the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences. He served as a member of the NARAS Publications Advisory Committee between 1995 and 2002, becoming a frequent contributor to Grammy Magazine and the Academy’s website. To this day he remains an annual contributor to the Grammy Program Book published to accompany each year’s awards ceremony.
Prolific in a variety of media, di Perna has penned CD liner notes for Santana Live at the Fillmore 1968 (Columbia Legacy), Heavy Metal Hits of the 80s Volumes I and III (Rhino Records 1996) and historic reissues such as AC/DC’s The Razor’s Edge and Blow Up Your Video (Sony/Columbia reissues 2003) and Pink Floyd guitarist David Gilmour’s first two solo albums, David Gilmour and About Face (Sony reissues 2006). In the burgeoning field of music museology. Di Perna has written exhibit text for the Grammy Museum and co-curated exhibits on Carlos Santana, Steve Vai and George Benson for the Musical Instrument Museum in Phoenix.
Books authored by Alan di Perna include:
Play it Loud, an Epic History of the Style, Sound, & Revolution of the Electric Guitar
Guitar Masters: Intimate Portraits
Green Day: The Unauthorized Illustrated History
The Guitarist’s Almanac
Fender Classic Moments