CD review by Peter James Dawson
“This is an offering of holy songs for crazy times, a little antidote.
“May they replenish your soul and bring you joy,” is Kavisha Mazzella’s mission statement on this 2020 release of gentle traditional chants and original songs to enrich the soul.
Recorded at the Malmsbury home studio of multi-instrumentalist and producer, Nicholas Lyon, the album is Kavisha’s answer to the negativity of these covid years.
The opening track, ‘Gayatri Mantra’, is the first of five Hindu-Buddhist meditative mantras, which also include ‘Om Mani Padme Hum’, ‘Gate Gate-Heart Sutra Mantra’ and ‘Om Shanti’, with Kavisha’s ‘Everything is You’ a tribute to Shiva.
She seems to have delved deep into her spirituality with the richness of her voice touching the listener’s heart.
Her backing vocal on ‘Gate Gate-Heart Sutra Mantra’ has a tribal-like quality that acknowledges the similarity betweens cultures worldwide in their striving for sacred meaning in life.
Duetting with herself, Kavisha begins Peter Makena’s ‘Magnificence’ with the sound of the sea, then her tender touch on guitar with Nicholas’ harp notes; harmonious as they spiral around one another in fluid sonic waves.
‘Prayer of Saint Francis’ is a nod to Christian hymns: “Make me an instrument of thy peace… Where there is hatred let me sow peace.”
It is almost a hypnotic round in the traditional Western folk style.
‘Love Swing’ and ‘Sweet Divine Love’ are love songs that are both an accolade to a lover and homage to the Universe.
The other love ballad is Jerek Czchowicz’s ‘Love I call your name’, to which Kavisha has added her own Italian verse.
‘Mother Earth Sacred Earth’ is Kavisha’s declaration to defend our Earth against the problems wrought by pollution and climate change, which are becoming more and more evident.
Throughout this album of calming kirtan, Kavisha’s solid acoustic guitar work sets the foundation for the songs, augmented by her sweet, understated playing of Shaman drum, Tibetan bells, mandolin and recorder.
Nicholas, on synthesiser, bowed double bass, harp and glockenspiel, provides the ultimate accompaniment to complement Kavisha’s vision.
In her long career, Kavisha has gained a well-respected name as a community musician, as well as a regular performer at festivals and as a touring artist.
It all began in 1981 with her brother Giri Mazzella and Sanjiva Margio in I Papaveri playing Neopolitan and Southern Italian Street Songs from the 14th to the 20th Century.
She first came to national attention with her appearance in the Franco Di Chiera documentary, Joys Of The Women in 1993.
Having won accolades for her sensitive songwriting, she garnered a 1998 ARIA for her second album, Fisherman’s Daughter.
Other recordings are The Fearless Note (2016), Riturnella (2014), Love and Sorrow (2011), Suitcase Serenata (2009), Silver Hook Tango (2003), Canberra, Cork, Calgary…Live 2000, Fisherman’s Daughter (1998), Mermaids In The Well (1995), plus several albums with choirs, including the Melbourne Millenium Chorus and Le Gioie Delle Donne Italian Women’s Choir.
Six of Kavisha’s albums are available from Trad&Now.
Kavisha has also a substantial record of involvement in multicultural theatre, from a long-time association with Fremantle’s Deckchair Theatre Company to the Castlemaine co-production (with yours truly) of How The Hell Did We Get Here??? in 2018.
This year, the planetary wanderer is resuming her intimate guided tours of Italy with Italian Choral Adventures co-hosted by foodie extraordinaire Valdo Michelangeli in Tuscany, in May and June.