Belinda Carlisle, “Wilder Shores” (Spirit Voyage/Edel)
On “Wilder Shores,” Belinda Carlisle follows on the path paved by a long list of rock and pop stars — from George Harrison to Boy George — who’ve echoed their spiritual journeys in their music.
The mantras chanted while practicing Kundalini yoga helped Carlisle overcome years of addiction and her new album is centered on those healing repetitions of brief texts, which can be hypnotic in their intensity.
Carlisle, who lives in Thailand, has chosen to perform the Kundalini chants in pop song settings, so while the lyrics may require translation, the sounds are familiar. There are some Far East instruments, like the percussive tabla, but guitar, violin, piano and drums dominate the production.
As Carlisle says, heard from the room next door, you’d be hard pressed to tell them apart from less mystical compositions. Singing as well as ever, she still has that marked vibrato which helps give her voice such a distinct quality.
Would it be heretical to approach “Har Gobinday” as a dance tune? The pulsing bass, funky electric guitar and insistent drumming makes it a natural addition to a more adventurous DJ’s set list. “Humee Hum Brahm Hum” has shades of one Boy George’s own spiritual tracks, “Bow Down Mister,” while two songs sung in English, “Light of My Soul” and “Long Time Sun,” are engaging ballads.
The record ends with a piano-led version of Carlisle’s No. 1 hit, “Heaven Is a Place On Earth.” The eponymous album’s 30th anniversary is being celebrated with a special edition released concurrently with “Wilder Shores.”
Judging from her current work, the former Go-Go’s singer has succeeded in creating her own patch of paradise on this planet.