Najma Akhtar - Five Rivers

2020 RSD Drop 3

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Najma Akhtar - Five Rivers

Constantly being inspired by new sounds and musical genres, UK vocalist, songwriter, Najma, explores the synergies that resonate with her Asian - British roots by connecting vocal expressions of unrequited love through the waterways of voice, poetry and music. 
A musical journey, 'FIVE RIVERS’ begins on the banks of the River Ganges in India to Africa with the River Niger, Great Britain, with the River Thames & Ireland’s River Shannon and finally across the Atlantic to the majesty of the great Mississippi River.

'FIVE RIVERS' is the first project in which Najma's essential focus has been on the Western canon of song.
She says, “Using selected covers, my interpretation of songs written by Donovan, Tim Hardin, Bryan MacLean, Rev Gary Davis and the mystical love poetry of W. B. Yeats has allowed me to comfortably compare the many shared reference points between the ancient tradition of Ghazal (romantic Urdu poetry) and the Western tradition of lyric poetry, both beautifully address the issues of unrequited loss, tragedy & disillusionment” which  are all central to the Indian tradition of Ghazal.

‘Five Rivers’ can be best described as a confluence of culture, musical, poetic and linguistic traditions of the East and the West, brought together through the purity and beauty of voice. In researching this project, Najma has absorbed the distinct musical traditions of West Africa, the Mississippi Delta, the Western Folk traditions ie Irish / Celtic, Ghazal, Rock music, Jazz, Psychedelia, Trance and Sufi influences taking only that which would serve to demonstrate their interconnectivity.

Jac Holzman, who signed the band ‘Love’ in the sixties and former owner of Elektra Records, upon hearing Najma’s interpretation on the song ‘Old Man’ wrote, ‘Najma, I so enjoyed what you did with Bryans song, one of the unsung gems on Forever Changes. Your take is original, understated and true to the spirit of the original. Most important -- it works!’
The musical arrangements of 'Five Rivers' reflect Najma's premise of interconnectivity. By employing the Indian Harmonium, Violin, Indian Tabla, Electric Guitar & Bass, the African Udo, Ngoni & eclectic percussion all of which serve to support and provide the perfect musical environment for the unique intelligence and sensitivity of her voice, which, whether she sings a ghazal, a ballad or a slow blues, resonates with truth & beauty & enhance the profound soulfulness of Najma's voice.
The breadth & depth of Najma's vision of universality is exemplified by her beautiful rendition of W. B. Yeat's,"The Song of Wandering Aengus,'   (inspired by Donovan's arrangement) Donovan's 'Young Girl Blues’ & Jagger / Richard's  ‘As Tears Go By'.

'Five Rivers' includes imaginative interpretations of compositions by Tim Hardin, Bryan MacLean ('Love') & Donovan.  Donovan also expressed his delight at having his songs included in the 'Five Rivers' project.

This musical journey is the dynamic and natural progression of Najma's continued exploration of poetic expressions and is the perfect follow up to ‘Rishte’, her highly acclaimed collaboration with Gary Lucas.

Najma is very excited about the album: “It is the first time that the poetic emphasis between the Urdu Ghazal and Western poetry has been explored and developed using western musical genres. The synergies that connect them are multifarious.

​It is the voice that tells the story and these ballads of unrequited love are universal”.

Limited to 500 copies.








Black Is The Colour Of My True Love's Hair



Cryin' Crazy



Old Man



The Song Of Wandering Aengus



Death Don't Have No Mercy



Season Of The Witch



Dancing Waltz



You Upset The Grace Of Living When You Lie


SKU 11062
Record Label Last Minute Productions
Label / Model # Independent
Catalogue Number JAAN 1104
Country EU - Europe
Release Date (Year) 24 October 2020
Original Release Date (Year) 20 March 2020
Barcode # 0715706672412
Shipping Weight 0.2800kg
Shipping Width 0.010m
Shipping Height 0.314m
Shipping Length 0.314m
Shipping Cubic 0.000986000m3
Type New
Format Limited Edition Record Store Day 2020 Release, Black Vinyl, Limited to 500 Copies
Vinyl Colour Black
Genre World & Reggae

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