R&B singer-songwriter Raveena Aurora released her new album “Asha’s Awakening” on Feb. 11. Already known as an icon for writing her own songs, directing her own music videos and owning her own record label, Moonstone Recordings, Raveena continues to build her brand on the theme of independence. Through a series of Instagram posts, she explained her artistic vision as switching between telling her own story to that of a “Punjabi space princess” whose intergalactic travels facilitate her personal growth.
“Asha’s Awakening,” featuring artists such as Vince Staples, Asha Puthli and TWEAKS, is both relatable and deeply personal. Raveena accomplishes this by exploring themes such as identity, love and healing through her own life experiences. For example, while listening to “Time Flies” many listeners will be reminded of their own experiences regarding clinging to childhood innocence and past relationships as they get older. If they look at Raveena’s Instagram post explaining the song, they’ll learn that it describes how she coped with getting an abortion, “one of the turning points” in her life as she matured.
Raveena’s latest release is filled with personal touches. Many lyrics weave her identity as a South Asian member of the LGBTQ+ community into the album. The pronouns used by her love interests vary from song to song, and many of the lines are sung in Hindi.
“Asha’s Kiss” is an obvious example. The song features Asha Puthli, a well-known Indian singer-songwriter, producer and actress. She is considered by some to be the first female Indian pop star and has explored genres ranging from disco to blues. Over six minutes of wind instruments, chimes and light percussion build an epic women-loving-women space romance that combines Indian culture with sci-fi vibes. Raveena and Puthli cross generational lines as they harmonize over the lyrics “When we kiss / I spiral into space / When I love you / Heaven's in your face,” causing listeners to ascend.
“Kathy Left 4 Kathmandu” accomplishes the same goal in a completely different way. Raveena’s tone is upbeat and bright as she pokes fun at a white woman who dreams of living an idealistic, exotic and crunchy bohemian life. It is easy to imagine a smile with a biting edge on her face as she sings. A review from NPR called it “a sunny funk track that satirizes white hippies' fetishization of India,” and with lyrics like “Rich hippie, better check your balance / Are you running out? Oh, running out,” that description feels apt.
Most of the songs are defined by sensual lyrics and hypnotizing vocals, emulating Raveena’s iconic style, but a few unique tracks open new doors for the artist. “The Internet Is Like Eating Plastic” is a spoken word piece criticizing the internet, including how it enables Raveena’s daydreams. “I don't need this much information on pricing for a wedding in Bali / For a lover who doesn't exist,” she says as dreamy instrumentals float by in the background. Listeners can relate to crushing on a close friend as she concludes, “Gabby has the most beautiful smile / She is becoming one of my best friends / I wonder what would happen if I looked up more.”
Last but certainly not least, “Let Your Breath Become a Flower (Guided Meditation)” lives up to its name as Raveena helps listeners relax for over 13 minutes. She invites them to imagine a nighttime scene and connect to a guiding star. She provides affirmations such as “You are beautiful” and “You are healing” as birds twitter and bugs chirp softly, giving the illusion of a peaceful evening beneath the constellations.
“Asha’s Awakening” combines Raveena’s roots, healing energy and the unique voices of several featured artists. It undoubtedly accomplishes the artist’s goal of creating a musical experience that is equal parts magical and emotional.