For the first edition of this year’s Picks of the Month, we’re diving into the Indian music scene. We’ve got some beautiful indie folk, exhilarating konnakkol and Punjabi Pop. (Spotify playlist can be found at the bottom of the page).
Ankur Tewari – Aahista
The steady beat of two notes on the acoustic guitar and Tewari’s soothing and lulling voice draws us into a warm and restful place. Sung in Hindi-Urdu, Aahista gradually builds up to include tambourine taps and gentle strums. The song is a call to embrace living mindfully and find moments of stillness in the hustle and bustle of everyday life.
Anuv Jain – GUL
The 26-year-old is rapidly earning a name for himself as a talented songwriter capable of putting into words complicated and often painful emotions, starting with Maula about the death of a family member to Baarishein about a breakup. Gul is a moving and timeless acoustic song about the false promises of fairytales and learning to look inside yourself to feel complete.
Shubham Kabra – Dhun Purani
The Mumbai-based singer released his debut EP Seher in January. The three-track release is soulful indie folk at its finest, awash with delicate piano and guitar instrumentals. Dhun Purani (meaning Old Tune) is gorgeous, building momentum in the verse into the descending piano chords and a catchy melody of the chorus.
Maati Baani, Shankar Tucker – O RE JiYA
This is a fun one. World fusion music band Maati Baani (meaning the language of the Earth) are made up of vocalist Nirali Kartik and multi-instrumentalist and producer Kartik Shah. The band’s bio exclaims “We are like mad people set loose!!!”. O Re Jiya opens with a remarkable konnakkol performance (vocal percussion associated with South Indian Carnatic music). Next, the bandish joins the mix, (a set melody line in Hindustani vocal music native to North Indian Classical music). American musician Shankar Tucker then joins them for a lovely clarinet solo and there’s a brief rap interlude too.
JASSI GILL – Koka
Now, let’s move onto some Punjabi pop to finish up. Jassi Gill is known for his roles in Bollywood films but he has now switched focus to working on his music full time. Koka, from Gill’s new album Alll Rounder released this year, is a mid-tempo dance song featuring a mix of electronic beats and Punjabi Tumbi riffs (single-string instrument), topped off with smooth flute hook.