Aankharli Pharookai – A somewhat familiar ring of Mai dhai’s voice immediately transports you to a desert where a lover is singing and calling out to her beloved who is out somewhere on his camel and that camel advances with a rhythmic bustle. The song is just not about the commanding rendition by Mai Dhai. Karam abbas is just as good and so are Tanveer Tafu on Rubaab (oh that solo towards the end and a quiet presence all throughout) and Arsalan Rabbani on Harmonium. Rajasthani music – you beautiful beautilful thing!

Sayon – Finally Mekaal Hasan Band could make it to the insides of CokeStudio, not that they were missed. Sharmistha Chatterjee is a pleasure to listen to and kudos to the band for choosing the song they did. It is hard to not fall in love with the song barring few overproduced bits but by God does Sharmishtha cover those up or what! As with most of Mekaal Hasan’s work, there is a lot of noise and a constant sense of chaos. In this song, all of it works.

Nabeel Shaukat Ali – Bewajah – Trust CokeStudio Pakistan to give a wonderful pop twist to ghazal gayaki. Ghazal as a genre has been on constant decline post Jagjit Singh’s demise. Nabeel Shaukat ali gives a glorious touch to a ghazal that can be sung without all the accompaniments which are present in this version anyway. Sajid Ali brings the traditional stillness to the composition and it is a pleasure to watch his eyes look up while playing the flute. Not enough good things can be written about the beautiful singing and poignant lyrics. If you have loved someone and lost, keep the tissues nearby, this one will make you cry but you will not complain. Also, the correctness of Nabeel’s rendition tells us he is not a new singer. A pleasure to listen to.

Atif Aslam – Tajdar-e-Haram – Touching classics is always a big risk and kudos to producers to present Atif the way they have done in this timeless classic. With CokeStudio Pakistan, you can almost be certain that classics will not be spoiled (Except for that rare case of Komal trying ‘Lambi Judai’). Be it the humnavas Jamshed Ali Sabri, Naveed Ali Sabri, Mohammad Shan, Zahid Akhtar or that excellent Harmonium by Arsalan Rabbani or the master (Tanveer Tafu) himself on rubaab, there is hardly a note about which you can complain about in the song. Too soon to probably come out with this assumption, but this would remain my favorite for a long time to come and would go right up in the list of favorite songs from this season. CokeStudio Pakistan says this is a tribute to Sabri brothers. Sabri brothers would be proud. Jazak allah!

High point of the episode – Maikashon aao aao, madine chalein. Find it for yourself in one of the songs. When you hear something you have grown up listening to in the bylanes of Old Lucknow and that too done so well, you have no option but to go crazy. Take a bow CokeStudio Pakistan!

One couldn’t have asked a better first episode from Strings who appear to be getting in the groove of there being no groove at all…an ever evolving music wonder that is CokeStudio Pakistan.

The house band is top class and thank you strings for listening to us and stopping those distracting over the top theatrics by the supremely talented backup vocalists. Sara, Rachel, Momin – Kudos!

Thumbs up for Coke!

*Goes away singing – Aao madine chalein, isi mahine chalein aao madine chalein*