The Ethereal Beauty of Asha’s Awakening

Indian-American singer Raveena Aurora is back with her sophomore album, Asha's Awakening

Sabine Gaind Staff Writer

Raveena Aurora is the whimsical goddess of love and the fairy godmother of queer brown girls. Her new album Asha’s Awakening, released on February 11th, 2022, proves just that. 

The daughter of Sikh-Indian immigrants, Raveena is inspired by Bollywood music, along with Jazz singers such as Nina Simone, Ella Fitzgerald and Asha Puthli. Raveena doesn’t shy away from hiding any parts of her identity. Through her dreamy music, she explores the intersections between desi and Western culture in tangent with sexual fluidity and queer love. 

In an interview last year, Raveena stated: “Aren’t all songs love songs? Isn’t all music an extension of the loving energy of the universe, or the absence or disconnection from it?” Raveena’s work, both musical and visual, has always been about love. “Headaches” and its accompanying music video follows the passionate ups and downs of a romantic relationship between two women. Her debut album Lucid has a track called “Mama,” which tells the story of Raveena’s mother. The music video features Raveena, her mother, and her grandmother, centering around the love shared between generations in immigrant families.

Love is a prominent theme throughout Raveena’s new album. The inherent love one has for their cultural heritage, the journey towards self love and healing, and the spiritual beauty of love; these are all addressed in Asha’s Awakening.

On her Instagram, Raveena explains that Asha’s Awakening is based on a story she wrote about a Punjabi space princess named Asha. She emphasizes that the album is about meditating on a life filled with beauty, joy, anger, pain, healing, and love. The album, Raveena declares, is about “the quiet moments AND the loud moments….[its] the celebration of being alive.”

Indeed, the album is a celebration of being alive. The perfect blend of R&B and Bollywood inspirations, along with some more experimental styles, Asha’s Awakening brings the listener through an ethereal journey. 

The opening song “Rush,” is a dreamy dance track that manages to be both funky and calming. The song sets the tone for a celestial trip into the world of Asha, the space princess. There are more romantic songs like “Secret ft. Vince Staples,” “Magic,” and “Circuit Board, that are upbeat and joyful, yet have whimsical undertones. There are some tracks that sound more like social commentary, like “Kathy Left 4 Kathmandu” which satirizes Western ‘hippie’ culture that commodifies Eastern cultures, and “The Internet Is Like Eating Plastic,” which is a spoken word track about the trials of social media.  

Track 4, “Kismet,” has an almost nostalgic vibe to it. The song opens with Raveena counting in Hindi, gleefully, and transitions to Raveena singing about herself and her friends playing and dancing in a garden. The title of the song is a reference to the concept of destiny and there’s something beautiful about this declaration of finding love, not only in platonic relationships, but in reconnecting to one’s cultural roots as well. 

In “Mystery,” Raveena wonders: “Isn’t that the goal?/To be loved until you’re whole.” Here, she might be contemplating the goal of life, or of love itself. Aren’t we all just looking for our other half? Yet, Raveena isn’t reinforcing this idea that someone is whole once they receive love from someone else. She explores how the feeling of being loved manifests itself in different ways, and is just as important as loving; that reciprocity is both beautiful and healing.

After an intermission, “Arrival to the Garden of Cosmic Speculation,” the album transitions from an upbeat to a more ethereal, contemplative aura. 

“Asha’s Kiss” features Asha Puthli, an Indian experimental Jazz singer from the 70s. Hearing Raveena collaborate with one of her musical icons truly is magical, both for her, as she expressed on Instagram, but for the listener as well.

“Time Flies” is another beautiful song. It’s a personal recounting of Raveena’s abortion at age 21, and how she credits that as an important moment in her adult life. The melody is emotional, and, as always, the lyrics

 are beautiful. Vulnerability always shines through Raveena’s work, and through this song in particular.

The final track is “Let Your Breath Become a Flower,” a guided meditation. Raveena’s calming voice puts the listener in touch with nature; it’s somehow both whimsical and grounding, two words that capture the essence of Asha’s Awakening.The next few songs, “Love Overgrown,” “Endless Summer,” and “New Drugs,” all nostalgic in melody, see Raveena contemplating the ups and downs of love and heartbreak.

Overall, Asha’s Awakening is a love letter to the universe, and to love itself. Raveena creates a colorful, shimmering world that doesn’t shy away from the harder parts of life — the loss, the pain — but also relishes in the beauty and wonder life brings.

Staff Writer

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