Multi-instrumentalist Thalib Razi creates new sounds on second album
Credit: Erik Resly

We know D.C. Get our free newsletter to stay in the know.

The Water of Life

Local multi-instrumentalist Thalib Razi merges Celtic folk music with lyrics that explore Islamic spirituality on his second album, The Water of Life. While the singer and songwriter has not heard other music like this, he says the combination is not as unique as it may sound. “Several scholars like TJ Winter and Seyyed Hossein Nasr have observed similarities in the importance of nature in both Celtic and Islamic cultures,” says Razi. The musician, who is of Sri Lankan Muslim descent, grew up in Indianapolis, where he developed a love of Celtic music. “I watched Celtic Woman perform on PBS and was immediately drawn to how simple, yet deep and natural, their sound was.” Razi, a one-person band—he sings and plays guitar, violin, keyboard, drums, and synths on the album—credits acclaimed Celtic artists like Silly Wizard, Dougie MacLean, and Dervish as inspiration. On The Water of Life, the term “Celtic” sonically means prominent stringed instruments on reels, jigs, folk-rock, and slow dance numbers. Lyrically, some songs on the album address spirituality while others tell philosophical stories. In his ballad “The Green Man,” Razi conjures an imaginary meeting between Al‐Khidr, “the Green One,” who guided Moses in the Qur’an, and Robin Hood, who is also associated with the color green. (Razi notes the color green is also symbolic in both cultures.) Razi describes the title track as a “tongue in cheek satire of an Irish drinking song in its melody and style,” but notes that the meaning is far deeper. He says it’s a guide, rooted in the writings of Sufi poets, to “get to the deeper feeling that everyone wants through living life through your heart and not via a substance.” The album is available via $8 or pay what you want.