Yoga Journal, January 2012

QUEEN OF HEARTS, by Jai Uttal. Nutone Music; 

Kirtan artist Jai Uttal rocks the yoga house (yet again!) with a genre-bending blend of old-school reggae and ska, Brazilian samba, and traditional Bengali kirtan. Dedicated to Radha, the Hindu goddess of devotion, Queen of Hearts is the musical equivalent of a four-course meal–and just as likely to satisfy. Co-produced by Uttal’s longtime friend and collaborator Ben Leinbach (whose album Sangha is also reviewed on this page), Queen of Hearts is a tantalizing mix of sensuality and spirituality performed with stellar musicianship.

Each song is buoyed by soaring vocals from Uttal and a choir of angelic yet earthy female backup singers, including Tina Malia (who has sung with Carlos Santana, Bonnie Raitt, and India.Arie) and up-and-coming kirtan divas such as C.C. White and Prajna Vieira. Highlights include the sultry, reggae-centric “Ocean of Milk” and the prayerful, folk-tinged “Vishnu’s Dream.”

Many yogis will use this album as a high-octane accompaniment to a fast-?owing asana practice, and that’s not a bad idea. But Queen of Hearts is not background music; it merits repeated, intent listening in its own right. One spin will get your body moving; the next will put this album at the top of your playlist.