Naren's indie round-up - Dec 2021 Ep 3


Usha Uthup/ Wokay

Promoter: Jazz Goa

Rating: *****

The evergreen Usha Uthup sings the blues.. and how! She dons a curly hairdo, puts on a western attire and begins, "Woke up this morning to a brand new day". Slowly, she moves to, "I get that funky feeling, that I'm feeling wokay.. woh-oh-oh-oh-kay".

Three incredible solos adorn the song, as harmonica player Rohan Singhal, guitarist Salim John Sadiq and keyboardist Xavier Peres take turns. Bassist Colin D'Cruz and drummer Clifford Siqueira man the rhythm section.

Usha comes out as a natural charmer, as she returns to her trademark saree and bindi for the curtain call. She's been on the scene for over five decades, and is as energetic as ever. Wokay?


Tubby & Samantha/ Christmas Time

Label: Inkk Audio

Rating: ***

Over the past year, Mumbai singer Samantha Noella has regularly released a stream of singles. She has now teamed up with composer Indrajit Sharma 'Tubby' on a Christmas carol.

'Christmas Time' is apt for the mood. "Christmas time feels like a time we should celebrate love and the cheer that the season brings," she sings in her rich voice, hitting the high notes effectively towards the end.

Tubby's composition is smooth. While Vinayak Pol is on drums, Mark Hartsuch comes up with a fantastic saxophone solo. A children's choir from the Scattitude Academy and a youth choir synchronise well. This is a good addition to your Christmas playlist.

Ravi Iyer/ Flying

Label: Self-released in association with Headroom Studio

Rating: ****

Adept at both rock and fusion, guitarist Ravi Iyer goes in for a progressive sound on his new single 'Flying'. It's a remake of his earlier song, written on a philosophical note by Manisangsu Bhowmik, but the treatment is fresh.

Beginning with a David Gilmour-inspired slide, Ravi continues with semi-spoken vocals before playing a succession of notes on his double neck. Shovon Mukherjee plays the upright bass, not seen often in Indian indie music, with Mann Bipin on drums.

This is Ravi's second notable composition over the past few months, after the multi-artiste ShowCase Events song 'Geeton Mein Woh Awaaz Hain Hum', also featuring engineer Aslam Khan. His guitaring on 'Flying' soars.


Suresh Wadkar/ Tanha Bhari Shaam

Label: Red Ribbon Musik

Rating: *** 1/2

The excellent Suresh Wadkar is back with a soulful and melancholic ghazal composed by the talented Ahsaan Ahmad. Lyrics are by Kamlesh Sonawala, whose choice of words and metaphors is praiseworthy.

The matla goes, "Tanha bhari shaam mein chehre nahin rahe, manzil toh abhi door thi ki saathi nahin rahe". Suresh's singing is expressive as always, and lines like "Yaadon bhari kitaab ke panne nahin rahe".

While a gentle piano caresses the backdrop, violin and guitar are used subtly. Amit Chaubey's tabla completes the set-up in this wonderfully-arranged piece.

Nishant Singh ft Utkarsh Sharma & Neelasree Basu/ Kho Jaate Hain

Lahel: Self-released 

Rating: ***

Delhi composer Nishant Singh is out with his fourth single 'Kho Jaate Hain', a blend of western and Indian arrangements. It's a rain song, whose timing doesn't sound too odd as some regions are getting December rain.

Singers Utkarsh Sharma of Delhi and Neelasree Basu of Jalpaiguri get together from different studios, with Vaibhav Singh handling production. Nishant's lines "Baarish mein hum tum kahin aa kho jaate hain" suit the song's mood. Neelasree, who sang in Nishant's earlier 'Hua Hua', has a sweetly pleasant voice.

The musicians go in for an animated video, which though simple and well-made, seems a bit repetitive after a point. With so many animated videos being made, only the really unique ones will stand out.


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