Track listing: The Dream Is Still Alive, Heaven, Making Peace with Myself, I Will Be Strong, Change of Heart, The Bird's Song, Come Home, Remember Who You Are, Lost in You
Exulansis took me by surprise. They say be careful about first impressions, and mine completely fooled me. It was Abhi Ananda's promo photo. The fiery red-to-pink hair. And what I think (gimme some leeway, I'm a drummer) to be him holding a gorgeous Paul Reed Smith Custom 24. That, along with the VIBES shirt, had me thinking I was about to hear a shredding metal album. I was ready for arpeggios-for-days and some level of sonic intensity.
Boy, was I ever wrong--Exulansis kicks off with acoustic guitar and harmonica! "The Dream Is Still Alive" is much more Christy Moore, Bob Dylan, or acoustic Green Day than it is a G3 Vai/Satriani/Johnson emulation.
"Heaven" is sincere and hopeful, with Ananda adding some vocal harmonies and piano in a sweet Duncan Sheik-y mid-tempo number. "Making Peace with Myself" a humble introspection. "I Will Be Strong" an exercise in motivation and self-encouragement.
There is no flash to this album. It's so from-the-heart, honest and true. Ananda makes it clear that Exulansis is a solo project and is purposefully separated from his full band project. Perhaps that will take on a more aggressive tack. But when you put on Exulansis, expect a bit of catharsis. It might pick you up if you're feeling a bit low. Great songs for a Saturday morning when you reflect on the past week and look ahead to the opportunities that lie ahead.
Exulansis is a manifesto...to encourage and to inspire listeners to embrace life with courage, acceptance, and positivity.
Abhi Ananda eschews the approach of blasting all he does over social media in an effort to attract attention. Per his bio, "he believes that having social media will make it difficult for artists to be authentic and true to themselves." Wouldn't it be nice if all artists were able to unite in this movement?
Exulansis itself is the concept of giving up trying to talk about an experience because people aren't able to relate. Ananda isn't talking about anything. He's putting his inner most emotions into music and invites you to relate however you may by listening. So in lieu of this review ending by urging you to follow Abhi's socials, instead please go to where his music is: Spotify, Apple Music, YouTube, Soundcloud. Listen. Follow. Enjoy.