Is Amerexotica a thing? It is now. This enjoyable singer-songwriter fare is only improved by its Indian decoration.

Time:  5 tracks / 24 mins

We live at a time when plenty of racial tensions pull people apart, but it is music as much as anything that brings people together.

Anita Aysola has those racial divides within herself and it has taken her a while to reconcile them.

Born in India, but raised in Michigan, the singer, writer and pianist has been trained in Hindustani classical music, Western classical and jazz.

She had been considering a career as a concert pianist until playing a piano piece for her sister’s music professor, who asked, pointing at the piano, “What if you brought your Indian classical training into this?”

Now her music effortlessly and beautifully combines the two traditions. Those familiar with half-American, half-Indian band Aradhna will be able to gauge the effect, as their sounds are quite similar in their light, melodic style, which comes across as mainly American, with pronounced Indian decoration; Amerexotica, if you will.

She addresses this experience in the (somewhat optimistic) opening song “America”: “Some came here searching, some came here in chains, all hoping for a better way to live. We speak every language known to man, but we’re all saying the same thing. We are America.”

It’s one where the violin plays in distinctively Indian style during the bridge, as it conveys the emotion in the song – which is what her voice does in “Long Way Home.”

The central song in the five-pack is pure Americana, with its piano chops particularly Southern and bluesy, abetted by some subtle gospel backing vocals.

The title track is a mother-to-baby-son song, hoping that he will “fly miles beyond our dreams,” while the closer has a bit of Maria Muldaur’s “Midnight by the Oasis” about it.

Altogether, it’s a lovely set of tracks that are utterly comfortable for Western ears, and only improved by the Indian toppings; the best of both.

Derek Walker