Ray of light is the eight seventh album from queen of pop, Madonna and was the stars' comeback album after her lengthy absence from music during the mid- nineties. The album received critical acclaim and is one of the stars most successful and musically accomplished albums to date. It won four Grammy awards and spawned many chart-topping singles, which re-established Madonna as the most successful female and versatile artist of our time.
Ray of light has been defined as Madonna’s spiritual album, which saw the star re-invent herself as a techno yogi, ready to share her most candid and soul searching stories ever. The albums inspiration comes from Madonna’s own practice of yoga, eastern philosophies and the birth of her first child, Lourdes.
The term Ray Of Light, from a yogic perspective, refers to the Sanskrit term, Sushumna Nadi, the main energy centre of the body, which runs along the spine.
With the practice of yoga, this energy channel, and others, can be awakened to release energy to the body and mind. The title track thus, is an energetic techno-rave of pure light and joy, which uplifts any grey day. The inspiring lyrics and energy suggests the artist is spiritually, physically and mentally sound and also suggests someone who is rejoicing in their newfound knowledge. ‘She’s got herself a little piece of heaven’, ‘she’s got herself a universe’ and ‘I feel home’, are all lyrics from this track that support this interpretation. The track is carefully placed behind, Drowned world/substitute for love and Swim, both personal insights on redemption and spiritual growth. Ray of light extends these themes as a celebration on how one feels after much soul-searching and reflection.
The middle chunk of the album continues on the spiritual musical journey, with three tracks bursting with inspired enlightenment.
Nothing Really Matters is an honest, beautiful expression of love and compassion, encapsulating a universal idea of how to treat one and other. ‘Nothing really matters, love is all we need. Everything I give you, all comes back to me’ is the lyrical mantra which enriches with its message of loving another gives one and abundance of love back and that’s what really maters.
Sky Fits Heaven is a thumping kick-ass ride along a road of philosophical signs and following your heart. This track implies struggles with spiritual wisdom and how one should always follow their heart more than the oversaturated amount of offerings one could receive on their spiritual path. The verses are all philosophical offerings and advise on what one should do or could aim for when following their spiritual path, however the music is a pounding beat of electronica, which highlights the distortion between your own mind and an overload of information. The chorus on the other hand is melodic and sung beautifully, reflective of the lyrics, which suggest that following ones own road and heart may be the best way forward.
A traditional yoga mantra gets a techno-pop makeover in the form of, Shanti/Astangi. This track blends together Indian music, techno and Sanskrit to great effect and is never shy of being played in yoga classes.
Listening to this album is like going on a journey- a journey through the pitfalls of fame and life, spiritual awakening and growth. Being released in the late 90’s, a time when consciousness in the world, along with yoga, was being more and more valued as a way of life and superstars like Madonna, were able to bring those values into popular culture to reach a wider audience, inspiring many people to take up yoga and to adopt an eastern way of thinking. This is more than a pop album, it’s a concept, a spiritual guide and musically ahead of its time which still sounds modern and relevant today. An absolute must for any music fan and modern yogi alike.