Dasht e tanhai – Meesha shafi starts this with a soulful touch (with minimal music) and the composition comes to life with the typical ‘CokeStudio-sque’ style with all the music hitting us barely 2 minute in the song. The comparison with the Iqbal bano’s version is an obvious ‘Go-to’ topic for this. I haven’t heard it in a long time and although the traces remained in my head, I didn’t (And I WON’T) compare the notes between the two. This beautiful composition deserves (like all the CokeStudio compositions) to be evaluated stand alone, in it’s entirety. Towards the end, the violin makes up for the ‘Goosebumps’ factor. This would have been tough for Meesha to sing along with this reasonably fast paced music arrangement. Still, she is Meesha and she does it with aplomb. This will grow on you if you don’t like it already. 2 Thumbs up!

Koi Labda  – The talented Viccaji sisters start this song along with Symt. Like the previous song by Symt, it appears perfectly rehearsed and very sharp as he takes us via various by shades of love and the way he leaves on ‘Har kisi nu mukammal jahan nahi milta’, Only Sanam Marvi could have picked it up. I couldn’t help feel that the portion of Sanam Marvi was recorded separately but I might be wrong. (As per the CokeStudio website, Sanam was brought later. I apologize for this) Sanam sticks to her familiar territory and Symt takes it over splendidly. My vote to Symt for this one.

Mahi – Bang! And then it dies! Farhad then holds the microphone for us. The song has a very slow start and the magnificent shehnai holds the listener close and lets Farhad take us through as he sings about the search for his beloved. From 2:44 minutes, the song picks up the pace and then it dies down almost immediately as Farhad takes to the drums and shehnai makes a heroic comeback in the song. Like Charkha Nolakha, this one also doesn’t have a definite hook and has a lot of music to its credit.  The voice that Farhad has isn’t (in my view) suited for loud alaaps and that’s the only blip on this otherwise above average song.

Waah Waah Jhulaara – The Superb Chakwal group this time get a solo song and they sing a beautiful song about how time takes everything from us. The super talented Viccaji sisters have a special role to play in this song as well. The magnificent joint alaaps and long taans that chakwal group takes is the stuff legend (and folk music) is made of. The music is kept at a minimum dominated by Guitar, Dholak and drums. The simplicity of singing style (that reminds me the way Aarti is done in temples) will bowl you over because of sheer impact this group leaves on your mind. Easily, the find of this season and I do hope we get to hear more from this group (Cokestudio or un-cokestudio wise).

Seher – In one of the firsts, CokeStudio Pakistan recorded this track (without Farhan Rais khan) (source – cokestudio.com.pk) and Farhan Rais khan was invited later to play to the track.  It’s pure Sitar magic and with the bad habits infused in our minds (thanks to below average intellects of people calling anything as ‘fusion’ these days), this track takes ‘fusion’ to another level altogether. Never loud. Never ‘on display’. Quietly soothing and insanely beautiful. Did I forget to mention the backup vocals by Viccaji sisters in this as well? This is a ‘forever in the folder’ sort of a track. You just can’t delete this from your music library. Simple.

My picks – Wah Wah jhulara, Dasht e tanhai, Seher and Koi labda

With Season 5 coming to an end, Rohail Hyatt demonstrated (without featuring himself in any song, mind you) that good music is what it is all about and good music is all what it should be about.

More power to CokeStudio Pakistan!

As we here in India try our hands with multiple producers (and 250 odd musicians, aptly advertised!), It’s time we stop comparing Pakistan and Indian versions of CokeStudio because in my humble opinion, CokeStudio Pakistan is a ‘Go to’ case study. We can better it, we can ruin it but we can never match it’s sound.

We have got to find our own style and then we can compliment this excellent body of work by Rohail Hyatt which is available to us:

FREE. FOREVER. Yes.