In the current trying conditions for Pakistani musicians — when upcoming artists are struggling due to a slump in the industry — a fresh album from a locally known pop icon like Faakhir Mehmood is a welcome respite. With super hit tracks like “Mahi Ve”, “Deewana” and “Jiya na Jaye”, the musician has huge expectations to live up to with his new album Jee Chahay. The album is well produced and has some wonderfully composed songs with beautiful lyrics, although some tracks do have a tinge of Bollywood music.
Even though Jee Chahay — which comprises of 10 songs — might not come close to his previous offering Mantra, which was released in 2005, it still manages to give the listener some tunes worth humming.
Songs that stand out
The highlight of the album is title track “Jee Chahay”. Faakhir weaves his magic as a phenomenal composer with this single as he improves his own style of pop music.
“Allah Karay”, which also has a video featuring Mahnoor Baloch as a bride, is the first song in the album and has a catchy melody. “Bailiya” is yet another ballad that stands out due to its beautifully penned lyrics and its melody, which bears a stark resemblance to Faakhir’s classic “Deewana”. These songs reflect the pop singer’s experience as a songwriter and his ability to stay afloat in this market when others like Haroon Rashid have failed to leave a mark.
Faakhir’s attempt at satire
Many musicians these days are sticking to the new formula of incorporating bhangra numbers and satirical songs to keep themselves up-to-date with market trends and Faakhir does just that. If Ali Azmat can sing “Bomb Phata”, Faakhir brings you “Atom Bomb”, a song that has a typical ‘Awaz’ feel to it. “O Sheeday” is another such song about a character ‘Sheeda’ who, according to the lyrics, is either a politician or a landlord or maybe both. Musically, “O Sheeday” fails to impress as the singer has put too many musical ingredients together due to which the final result is below par. Nonetheless, a video mocking Pakistani politics might make this track popular.
Ticket to Bollywood
A few songs might prove to be Faakhir’s ticket to Bollywood as they are arranged in a way that would appeal to any Bollywood composer. “Shikva”, which starts off as a pop ghazal and then converts into a qawalli — a noticeable trend in modern Bollywood music — is one of them. “Kho Jaaoon” is a lyrical treat and the melody is tailor-made for Faakhir’s vocals. The song, if used as a soundtrack of a film, can make even an average Bollywood film a hit.
Meanwhile, “Mitti Pao” is an interesting Punjabi number with a very smart mix of pop and bhangra melodies. However, having said that, the song is much less than what is expected from someone of Faakhir’s calibre. Ever since musicians like Abrarul Haq and Jawad Ahmed set the standards, artists vying to produce Punjabi bhangra numbers have to work harder so they offer something extraordinary that is worth being noticed.
The remaining songs in the album offer nothing new and seem to be present in the list just for the sake of completing a set of 10 songs. However, Faakhir does a good job with his fourth solo album. The lyrics are meaningful and a ton of experience is reflected in the songwriting, which makes it a worthwhile buy.
Published in The Express Tribune, November 12th, 2011.