Prakash & Tubby/ A Prayer, self-released
Known for his slide guitar skills, Bengaluru-based Prakash Sontakke sticks to vocals on ‘A Prayer’, his collaboration with Mumbai keyboardist Indrajit Sharma ‘Tubby’. Prakash & Tubby, as they call themselves, blend Hindustani classical elements with jazz here.
Drummer Gino Banks and bassist Sheldon D’Silva join in, and the result is an energetic piece. The main lines “Saat suron mein gun tere gaaoon, mein bigdi bana de tu rab mere” are sung with verve.
The video features an appearance by Vijay Benegal, who’s mixed and mastered the track. Shankar Mahadevan introduces the artistes with a small speech. All in all, some wonderful fusion here.
Rating: 8/ 10
Kamakshi Khanna/ Qareeb, Artist Originals
“Teri meri tedhi medhi zindagi ka kuch hal nahin, thodi thodi kho gayee yeh zameen, tere aasman mein jo main ud gayee”, sings Kamakshi Khanna on the opening lines of her Hindi song ‘Qareeb’, which is about a girl who learns to love herself.
Khanna has a smoothly textured voice, and smartly uses spaces between words. Backed by a rhythm n’ blues aura and the staccato build-up of Pranav Pahwa’s melodic guitar, the song has certain pleasantness.
The video, directed by Arsh Grewal, uses stop motion animation. It’s a sincere effort from the singer-songwriter.
Rating: 7/ 10
Anusha Mani/ Nafarmani, TM Music
Singer Anusha Mani has been on the playback circuit for over a decade, with contributions to the soundtracks of Dev D, Aisha and Chennai Express. She now does the Punjabi non-film single ‘Nafarmani’, which means disobedience.
The song talks of how the heart behaves stubbornly when a person is in love. While Goldie Sohel’s composition has a north Indian folk ballad flavour, lyricist Manoj Yadav writes, “Nafarmani karda-e, beimaani karda-e, is de aage meri chaldi nahin”.
Prashant Satyam’s video uses simple home and studio shots. Sunny M.R.’s production adds to the overall impact, and the song is easy to relate to.
Rating: 7/ 10
Ambi Subramaniam and Shweta Mohan/ Kapi Tillana, self-released
Violinist Ambi Subramaniam, son of maestro L. Subramaniam, teams up with singer Shweta Mohan on this ‘Tillana’ in raga Kapi, with words written by Hari Narayanan B.K.
While the base is Carnatic, the song is given a fusion element with the addition of guitar, keyboards, bass, drums and percussion. Kathak dance duo Nirupama + Rajendra lend another dimension by appearing in the video.
Mohan’s singing is marvellous, and Subramaniam’s violin holds the piece together. The video has been shot in isolation, and a highlight is Darshan Doshi’s tight drumming. A really well-produced piece.
Rating: 8/ 10
Ikka/ Level Up, Mass Appeal India
The first single from rapper Ikka’s forthcoming debut album features the popular Divine, with Kaater joining on the chorus. On the positive side, the song has been well-produced by DJ MissyK and Inflict”s video has some smooth dance moves.
However, the content uses the same old cliches, with lines like “Bar mere hard, flow mera faansi” and the trademark dissing on “Maana tu hai rich par teri gang hai broke lala”. This is besides the portrayal of the protagonist as a superstar from a middle class family.
Ikka keeps repeating the term ‘Level Up’ in a rather funny manner, sounding like “Lavooloh”. Basically, it sounds like yet another extension of the Gully Boy soundtrack or even Divine’s album Kohinoor, though it may work among the desi hip-hop buffs.
Rating: 6/ 10
Aditi Ramesh/ Sambar Soul, self-released
In her previous work, singer Aditi Ramesh often blended Carnatic elements with jazz. Her new track ‘Sambar Soul’ sees her using less of the Indian sounds and blending rhythm n’ blues and soul with Latin and jazz flavours.
With that mix, the song takes a while to grow, but it’s an intricate composition and the blend is seamless. “This song is in the key of sambar soul, it’s a vegetarian key I’m told”, she sings.
The title is said to be inspired by how Ramesh likes to describe her genre. She’s clearly evolved in terms of sound. And though this song’s ingredients are less sambar and more white sauce, it’s got a tangy taste.
Rating: 7/ 10