Nandini Srikar – Beete Pal: Music Review (Fusion Album)

The title song provides a sombre, normal start to Beete Pal. There is nothing groundbreaking about the track whose high points are Sanjay Divecha’s captivating guitar phrases and Nandini Srikar’s singing. Hummable tune though. Madhosh starts off promisingly, Nandini pulling off a semiclassical ad lib of Urdu lyrics, penned by her and Shaleen Sharma (ex-drummer with Parikrama, ex-lyricist with Agosh), with trained ease. But then the instruments kick in and sort of Bollywood-ise the song. The use of harmonies all through the song is fabulous, especially in the title refrain, but the arrangement lets down. Raaz Ko Raaz is where the fusion elements really start showing up, a sweeping strings-led arrangement backing a ghazal-based tune. And the effect is quite lovely, Kai Eckhardt on the bass helping a great deal. Nandini’s adeptness at the use of vocal harmonies comes to the fore yet again with Kyon Maane, a haunting tune fairly decently arranged. I especially liked the sarangi segment at the start. Marc Layton-Bennett hasn’t anything creative to do on the drums though. The guest bassist for Sawan Beete Jaaye however, Michael Pope, makes his presence felt big time in the interludes. One of the picks of the album from the fusion perspective, this song too.

Maula Mere has a very interesting arrangement, the kanjira (Vivek Rajagopal)-guitar (Kai Eckhardt) interplay in particular. But the tune fails to match up, and the song fares much lower than how it could have. The preachy Ud Jaa makes for a good listen, but again the template bears a very Bollywood-esque flavour. Duniya follows the same route, the lessons of life and everything, but the arrangement is more engaging in this case. And finally, Naina Baan Padi (the video of which is embedded below) is undoubtedly the best song of the album with its imaginative fusion. Nandini totally aces the singing (mostly in raag Nandkauns, she tells me) and the arrangement in this one, helped amply by Guitar Prasanna, bassist Steve Zerlin and drummer Atma Anur. Prasanna tops things up with a trademark carnatic guitar solo in the second interlude.

An interesting debut album with occasional spikes indicating the potential of Nandini Srikar the composer (though I would have been happier with an entire album on the lines of my top recos below). As for Nandini Srikar the singer this is just a reinforcement of her immense vocal prowess.

Music Aloud Rating: 7/10

Top Recos: Naina Baan Padi, Raaz Ko Raaz, Sawan Beet Jaaye

(Video below courtesy @meemeera, shot at Nandini’s album launch concert in Blue Frog Mumbai on 28th March 2012)