Listen Again: Lissa Coffey and David Vito Gregoli’s ‘Song Divine: The Bhagavad Gita Rock Opera’

0
Divine
Image courtesy of Lissa Coffey and David Vito Gregoli



The resurrected ‘Listen Again’ series takes a second look at previously released platters.  

“Listen Again” is a review series in which we revisit releases that, for whatever reason, never received the attention or acclaim they might have deserved when they first hit the record bins. Whether it was because the album was ahead of its time, strayed from the artist’s expected style, was misunderstood, or just not properly promoted, the “Listen Again” series urges music fans to “listen again.” This time we revisit Lissa Coffey and David Vito Gregoli’s 2021 release Song Divine: The Bhagavad Gita Rock Opera.

Lissa Coffey

Song
Image courtesy of Lissa Coffey

Lissa Coffey is an author, songwriter, and media personality. According to her website, she is also an “Ayurveda expert, hypnotherapist, and sociologist.” Based in Westlake Village, California, Coffey generally focuses on the topics of relationship and lifestyle advice and is the author of Song Divine: A New Lyrical Rendition of the Bhagavad Gita.  

David Vito Gregoli

David
David Vito Gregoli/Image courtesy of David Vito Gregoli

Gregoli is an arranger, composer, multi-instrumentalist, and producer. According to his website, he is also a “sound painter.” Gregoli is based out of Santa Monica, California, and has produced, played on, and/or recorded dozens of discs. This is his first release as a performer in six years and has been three years in the making.   

Signature sound

It is difficult to determine the signature sound of a collaborative effort that is based on the general philosophy of the famous Hindu tome the Bhagavad Gita (in English “Divine Song”). Nevertheless, it is possible to discuss inspiration. The material here is influenced by both traditional Indian music and contemporary genres such as classical, funk, pop, rock, and world music. Gregoli confirms this by adding that the tracks are “all laced with Indian flavors and inspired by traditional ragas.”

Song Divine: The Bhagavad Gita Rock Opera

This 19-track double album is reported to be the first musical presentation of Coffey’s English adaptation of the second-most translated and second-best-selling book on Earth. This pop-rock work is imbued with an assortment of apropos Indian instruments.  It tunefully tells the tale of Arjuna, a young warrior, and his struggle with responsibility. He is advised by his friend who is secretly the god known as Krishna.

Gregoli admits that creating this unique rock opera has “pushed [both him and Coffey] to dig deep and go where no one has gone before.” Gregoli performed and recorded with a number of other artists including (but not limited to) such vocalists as “Bollywood” fave Sonu Nigam, who some say is like the “Elvis Presley of India,” Deepak Ramapriyan (The BOLT, Breath of Life Tribe), Venu Bhanot, Kimberly Haynes, Alexander Perez, and Visvambhar Seth. Other contributors include musicians Seela Bringi, Neelamjit Dhillon, and Ajay Prasanna. 

Track Highlights And Fan Favorites

Disc One

The opening track includes the spoken word “Introduction”, which sets up the ever-present choice and struggle between good and evil, and “Life’s Lament” which completes the prologue. 

It’s followed by the single, “Know Who You Are,” which provides early evidence of the exceptional choices in instrumentation and production.

“Arise, Arjuna” is stirring but perhaps somewhat overshadowed by “Lotus in the Pond” which quickly follows and has a bit of funk to it.

“Meditation” is oddly titled in terms of the music. It starts off softly and calmly enough but musically morphs into more of an emotive rock ballad.  

The eighth audio offering is “Brahman” which includes a more modern musical touch that is almost reminiscent of hip-hop or rap. The lyrics focus on Brahman’s power and yet the contemporary curveball in the percussive presentation makes it memorable if not even catchy.

Disc Two

“Spark from Me” is a fan favorite. It has a strong opening and is both musically simplistic with a positive lyrical message. It is yet another track where the musicians make the music flow.

“Devotion” is distinctive and almost beautiful. The overall theme remains solid as does the overall performance.  

“The Tree” is perhaps one of the most significant cuts here in that one can visualize this rousing number being used to promote a theatrical presentation. It has a good chorus, effective lyrics, and good percussion to boot. Although it has a running time of almost five and a half minutes, it could also work as an FM radio deep cut or college radio single.

“Liberation” is the actual closing cut. It works well as the album endnote in that it closes the story being told and musically reminds the audience of the roots of both the literature and the accompanying compositions. It also makes it clear that regardless of one’s specific spiritual beliefs, one will always have questions, yet one must also keep the faith.

There’s also a bonus track. It’s a welcome inclusion even if many artists no longer include them. Titled “Maha Mantra”, it is comparatively simple yet honest and fitting despite its length of over 11 minutes.

Listen again

Overall, Song Divine: The Bhagavad Gita Rock Opera is an ambitious performance piece certainly worthy of today’s stage. Much like other rock operas, it is a musical journey. It is a songful sojourn through sacred scriptures that in many ways is both unique and universal thanks to Coffey’s uncomplicated lyrics and Gregoli’s modern musical instrumental “East meets West” presentation. So, if you’ve never heard Lissa Coffey and David Vito Gregoli’s Song Divine: The Bhagavad Gita Rock Opera, listen to it. If you’ve already listened to it…listen again.