Saturday, August 29, 2009

Sitar grooves: Daniel Merriweather - "Impossible"

The sitar in the West tends to mean one of two things; either the most obvious musical marker of Indian-ness, or as a symbol of trippy 60s psychedelia. In this series of posts I'm going to explore some of the different ways that the sitar has worked its way into Western popular music. But mostly its just a chance for you to dig some slammin' tunes.

Daniel Merriweather is a Melbourne soul boy made good. Having moved overseas and teamed up with uber-producer Mark Ronson, his debut album Love and War bulleted straight into the UK chart at number 2. The Australian media should be all over this guy but for some reason they're not yet. I remember seeing him at a gig maybe 8 years ago when he was a virtual unknown, and I couldn't believe how this nondescript white boy from Belgrave seemed to be channelling D'Angelo and the spirit of classic soul music, like virtually no one in Australia had managed before.

Impossible is his new single, and I think it's a killer. Reminds me a lot of Ronson's work with Amy Winehouse - blatantly Motown-esque in its musical arrangement, with a deep funk breakbeat courtesy of the backing band, the awesome Dap Kings. The sitar is only an extra colour in the busy arrangement, but it gives it that distinctive extra edge to make it memorable. The combination of sitar and funk breakbeat is generally a winner - check US3's You Can't Hold Me Down, The Dave Pike Set's Mathar, or Belle & Sebastian's Legal Man for other examples.

More soulful sitar-ness here.

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