SunoAnkhiyan Udeek – Accompanied by understated beats and an excellent israj by Arshad khan, this track is nothing like its countless re-imaginations by other Indian artists. Rao sounds comfortable (when has a difficult song troubled her anyway?). There is something in her voice that sticks in your head and if you couple that with excellent arrangement, you will get a song like this. By all means, superb!

Aaj Latha naiyo has an unplugged relaxing feel to it because the arrangement is minimal. This traditional song has been re-imagined by various artists with the most recent effort that comes to mind being Javed bashir’s at coke studio Pakistan by Rohail hyatt. While that version was marked with characteristic alaaps and harkats of Bashir, this effort by Shilpa disarms you with its luallaby-sque charm and beethoven-sque sound.

Ankhiyan Nu – has traditionally been a soft composition that played up the seriousness with words and not aggressive music arrangement. In this album though, the start is a bit hurried although the antras are done very well, and yes one stanza which is chosen isn’t the one you hear normally. I would have of course liked a bit of pause in the composition.

Duma Dum – The thing with classics like Duma dum is that they have been presented to us so many times already and if your effort isn’t superlative (arrangement or singing wise), even the ‘good’ versions don’t cut much ice. With constant beat and free flowing violin by Sharat chandra Srivastava, the track tries but doesn’t wow you, because there is nothing, well ‘wow’ about it. Towards the end, the track takes a bit of soulful turn which doesn’t sit in well with the overall vibe of the song as it is.

Aaye Na Balam –  After listening to Shilpa’s version of ‘Wo jo hum mein tum mein qaraar tha’ in maestro studio sessions (review here) I was looking forward to what she has done with this age old gem. It would suffice to say that as much as we should praise Shilpa’s singing, we must absolutely be grateful  to the arrangement of the song. This is exactly how a classic of this stature should be re imagined.  The israj is breathtakingly beautiful and the bass with guitars is just apt. I cannot write enough good things about the way this song ends, it just took my breath away.  For me, the song of the album!

Challa –  Shellee has penned this song and the kickass start of the song really sets the mood just right. I must admit the singing of Rao came across a bit bland and didn’t have the much needed ‘attitude’ (I know! I am not a fan of the word either but you get my point), that the song so richly deserves. Towards the end of the song, I actually thought Rao is going to fuse ‘tere ishq nachaya kar thaiyya thaiyya’! Having said that, what works is the delightful arrangement (yet again!) especially those guitars and violin!

A good album by all means. Of course, most of the songs in the album are in Punjabi, so the uptake from non speakers of the language might be an issue, but these are such timeless compositions that anyone who is a little curious would be lucky to try this album.

The tagline of the album reads ‘My love for the legends..’

In my view,  with a presentation like this, which is devoid of any drama and forced loudness, these legends would be so proud of the album. A glorious album that is worth a buy.

You can (And should!) buy the album here

Artist credits

Guitars by – Bhanu Mendiratta & Pranai Gurung (Latha)

Bass – Sajal Sharma

Keys – Anil Chawla

Drums – Abhijit Sood

Israj – Arshad Khan

Violin – Sharat Chandra Srivastava

Mixed by – Gaurav Chintamani and Sidhant Mathur at Quarter Note Studio, New Delhi

Mastering done by – Ted Jenson ad Sterling Sound, New York

Lyrics by – Shellee (Challa)

Other Lyrics – Traditional