It was only two years ago when we were touting Ali Azmat’s debut album, Social Circus. No stranger to the Pakistani music scene, his debut album was special because it was Ali going solo – separate from Junoon, the band that made him famous the world over as an accomplished and talented lead singer.
So 2008 sees Klashinfolk arrive on the scene, Ali’s second album. Pop it into the player, and you immediately recognize this to be classic Ali. Each track wild, eclectic but positively Ali Azmat. A 39 second Klashinfolk Intro starts us off leading to Gallan, the Na Re Na equivalent of this album. Highly memorable, the video for which has been dominating the airwaves in recent months. After listening to the song you’ll know why it was chosen for a video.
Track 3 treats you to sing-along special, Mera Khuda. A feel-good song heavily influenced by the mix of acoustic and electric guitars, falls just short of what you expect from Ali after all these years. Maybe it’s us, but after listening to Ali Azmat blow us away with every Junoon album, you expect nothing less. Tanha Hai Kyon starts with a retro vibe at track 4 – slow, steady yet something you’d skip by the next time you listen to the album.
Enter track 5, Yeh Kya Hua takes you back to Junoon circa 1999. But it isn’t until track 6, Naina, that Ali reasserts himself. You know immediately that this isn’t Junoon. This really is a new voice; very refreshing. Naina has a classical, yellow-mellow feel to it: “Taarey tootey hooey hain, apnay rootay hoeey hain”. This one’s a keeper – don’t say we didn’t warn you when you find yourself returning to PakistaniMusic.com to keep playing it again and again.
Tera Mera is another Ali Azmat track – more closer to the tunes Junoon was coming out with in the 2005-2007 time period. A fast drumbeat accompanying Ali’s recognizable stick-the-mic-into-your-face-and-sing-like-there’s-no-tomorrow vocals. Ley Sumbhal, another mellow-yellow track, stands out as one of the stronger candidates on the album: lyrically powerful, you can’t escape the urge to decipher what Ali’s trying to say here. Ditto for Shukria. This track has an eerie feel to it, with more vocal gymnastics – a complete 180 from the world-at-your-feet feel to Gallan.
Ay Mere Saathi at track 10 is the return of the escapist. The chorus is addictive – just the sort of thing you expect Ali to sing when warming up a crowd at a Klashinfolk concert tour. You Are at track 11 is something you’d rather Ali not attempt again – but you know that’s probably not likely. Sung in English, it mirrors the undertones which influence the rest of the album. While the chorus is certainly addictive, something appears to be missing. Track 12, Sawal, closes the album. A strong track that sounds forboading, it’s a sign of the times we live in. An unfortunate way to round up the album, not because the track hasn’t been composed well, because it has, but you can’t help but be left with a sinking feeling as the song winds down at the 5:26 mark. Or perhaps it’s meant to empower the listener.
All in all, Klashinfolk is evidence that Ali Azmat’s talent is still alive and well. Just when you think you’ve got his vocal style figured out, you find him pushing the boundaries of Pakistani music further. While not the album that will elevate him to solo stardom, no Ali Azmat junkie should be caught without this album in their collection.
Overall Rating: 3 stars