Giving life back to music

Updated: Sep 09, 2019, 07:48 IST | Shunashir Sen

Guitarist Warren Mendonsa says he has taken off on an intensely personal journey with his band's soon-to-launch album

Giving life back to music
Jai Row Kavi, Beven Fonseca, Adi Kurwa and Warren Mendonsa of Blackstratblues

A toddler climbs towards the light. He then grows into a child who discovers the joy of flying a balloon. But that happiness pales in comparison to the elation he feels on discovering the guitar. It drives him to outer space, and he spends his adulthood learning how to make the instrument laugh and cry. A woman joins him along the way. They fall in love. They give birth to a daughter. And ultimately, that toddler grows into a 40-year-old man looking at the light again, but this time as a husband, a father and a musician who's embarking on his next journey in life.

That's the pictorial story on the cover of Blackstratblues's upcoming album, When It's Time, launching on September 12. It's an intensely personal endeavour where the city-based band's front man, Warren Mendonsa, has plucked out chapters from his unwritten autobiography and turned them into songs. He's travelled inwards into the recesses of his past. Mendonsa tells us, "The way I look at it, when you write an album, you look back at the music once it comes to you and ask yourself, 'Okay, what do I have here?' You then start sequencing the songs in a way that they tell a story. Coming to this album, I'm turning 40 this year. So you can look at each song as a little chunk of my life.

Mendonsa in action
Mendonsa in action

The first track is thus about me coming into this world with everything fresh, and without any preconceived notions about how things should be. And from there, it grows to where I have reached right now. So, the last frame in the album cover is of a guy opening a door. If you look at that picture in a morbid context, it might seem like that's the end of your life. But I wanted to signify it as the start of the next stage."

It's a healthy way of looking at the future, really. But the musician's sensibilities are rooted firmly in the past. They hark back to an era when the lead guitar did the talking without any electronica appendages muffling its voice. Mendonsa has perfected his craft to the extent of a master sculptor who can define each strand of hair on a statue he's building. There is a level of honesty in When It's Time that makes it seem as if the songs are just an X-ray with which the guitarist bares his heart. And that heart is brimming with contentment. Turning 40 is looking like it's going to be a fun ride.

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