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World Music CD Reviews Asia & Far East

Yungchen Lhamo

By Jill Ettinger
Published March 16, 2007

Ama
RealWorld 33300

While we usually equate suffering with horrific imagery, there is a subtle beauty to this human circumstance, one that reveals the light beyond the shadows. Tibetan-in-exile Yungchen Lhamo made the journey across the Himalayan Mountains to India, in pursuit of cultural and spiritual freedom like so many of her countrymen. She has continued unearthing her heritage, as a Tibetan and a human, through her innovative talents as a singer and songwriter. Her latest recording Ama is, in a word, stunning. Like an evolved version of Yoko Ono meets Kelsang Chukie Tethong (a fellow Tibetan songstress), Lhamo departs from convention and creates gripping tracks (“Nyebe Nilam,” “Ranzen,” “Ong Mane Padme Hung,” “9/11”). Ama is highly luminescent, sultry, historically futuristic, incredibly soft and eccentrically beautiful. As well, so spiritually powerful, it may come to define a new generation of Tibetans living apart from but always a part of their sacred homeland.