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Posted on March 3rd, 2015 (3:00 pm) by Casey Bauer

If you’re not familiar with Santiparro, we can’t say we’re surprised. For the past several years, Santiparro (a.k.a. Alan Scheurman) has spent a lot of time traveling, “centering himself in shamantic rites and initiation, making frequent pilgrimages to visit and study with elders in North, Central, and South America.” Scheurman stays busy outside of music, and that generally makes it pretty hard to keep tabs on him. He also purposefully avoids making musical appearances in venues, concert halls, or bars, claiming “I did that in my twenties.” These days, Scheurman sticks to yoga studios and small café-type arenas, enjoying more intimate settings to better suit his music. This disposition can make it difficult to truly promote himself, but we acknowledge and applaud Scheurman’s confidence in accurately pinpointing his audience, and recognizing the appropriate backdrop for his music.

True Prayer is a meditative album through and through, from the sparse ethereal instrumentation, to the airy vocals and spiritual lyrical messages. The opening track, “The New Baktun”, starts with two guitars, one holding a lyrical melody and the other delicately coloring a soft backdrop, strumming lightly and keeping a steady rhythm. Schuerman’s airy timbre then chimes in, asking “are you harvesting?” The remainder of the track sings of abundance in all forms, using the baktun cycle of the Mayan calendar as a turning point. While the song is undeniably pretty and soothing, the lyrics are a tad trite, referencing common sayings and ideas like “everything you dream is waiting for you, just come and get it,” and “no waiting for the right time.” Clichés appear and irritate in other songs as well, such as “Darkness With Darkness,” which sings, “you can’t fight darkness with darkness. You think you can, but it’s a trick, so don’t fall for it.” The entire song is gorgeous, but it’s hard to get lazy, silly songwriting like that out of our heads.

True Prayer shows us that Santiparro is no average folk artist. After several unfortunate, devastating personal events, Scheurman had a spiritual awakening after attending a healing ceremony in New York. Ever since then, he’s dedicated his time and efforts to what he calls “medicine music,” which focuses on balance and healing. All of Scheurman’s solo releases, including True Prayer, reflect this notion. They all adopt uplifting, inspirational themes of nature (“Indio“), good vibrations (“Total Freedom”), and an overall unity and positivity.

While these are all undeniably respectable qualities, Santiparro’s music itself reflects them in a way that just isn’t the easiest to listen to. With traces of soft psychedelic rock and new age music, Schuerman tends to find a groove with each song, and then allows them to drift off into something more ethereal. Such is the case in tracks like “Pray Awake,” which unravels amongst lo-fi backdrops of rhythmic shakers, chanting, and an untraditional song format. In fact, most of True Prayer is difficult to stay grounded in; most songs avoid any kind of consistent or memorable riff or lyrical phrase, generally closing with repetitive lyrics. This makes for most tracks turning into a whiney, spiritual musing half way through, dragging the ends out and making them a little too long to enjoy fully.

However, the best song by far is “The Benefit Of Confrontation.” Featuring Will Oldham, the song is beautifully executed, with intricate guitar work and vocals that tumble and toss about. The only problem with this song is that it’s simply so good that it bums us out that the rest of True Prayer isn’t similarly crafted.

Santiparro unashamedly targets his audience, knows his goals and the kind of message he wants to deliver. He also knows that his music isn’t going to reach the ears of everyone, but this is something he’s entirely okay with. By refusing to play in typical concert arenas, and singing of spirits, multiple lives, good vibes and other hippy-inspired themes in a world that popularizes songs about endless partying, Scheurman has certainly carved out a little niche for himself, and we applaud him for it. That being said, True Prayer is an album with the best of intentions, but frayed seams that are hard to overlook.

Track List:

  1. The New Baktun
  2. Total Freedom
  3. In The Golden Room
  4. The Unvierse Strand
  5. Pray Awake
  6. Indio
  7. Darkness With Darkness
  8. Where We’re From
  9. The Benefit Of Confrontation
  10. Rainbow in the Night
  11. Sikuli
Santiparro - True Prayer Review
Purchase at: Amazon | eMusic

Our Rating

58 / 100
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