The face of the experimental indie Indian singer and songwriter matches that of Harsha Iyer. After his debut album last year, 20-year-old Iyer treads a completely different path with his second album When It’s Time. It takes a few listens to settle into the rich sounds of what can only be categorised as orchestral pop.
Familiar strains from the previous album ease into this one, with the album opener ‘Better Prospects’ being one of the few songs led by guitars. Iyer ends the song with a long instrumental section full of orchestral sounds.
Everything else is a carefully composed and arranged attempt at a western classical album, save for Iyer’s distinctive voice. The epic tones, pianos and string sections are produced by an audio interface but the regal, lush tones convey a good amount of authenticity.
‘Mystery Woman’ is where the essence of pop comes in, being just shy of three minutes and probably the catchiest song. But you might just miss it entirely, only to become engrossed with the next track ‘No Easy Answer’. Iyer’s vocals and the sweetest reverb-heavy piano notes come together beautifully, swelling and falling before finally fading out, as though it had just held your hands and was now letting go.
‘Let Me Into Your House’ will stick from the first listen itself, with a quick mash of what sounds like an entire orchestral arrangement (almost) with a jumpy drum beat, and an interesting story delivered in a few lines. If anything, this song ends too soon.
If there’s one thing Iyer knows how to do, it’s navigating the listener through several twists and turns all in under three minutes; a case in point being ‘Like A Fool’. Tempestuous by the end, but never telling you what comes next, instead jumping into another song.The album ends with the self-titled track, five minutes filled with a fairytale-like air about it, with Iyer delivering a formidable piano solo.
Iyer trades in his guitar and drums (on most songs) for flutes, violins, cellos, organ and pianos on When It’s Time. With the second part in the works, it shows how experimental his style has become, making his fans sit down and listen, instead of rocking out.
Bottomline: Takes a few listens to settle into
When It’s Time (Part one); Harsha Iyer, Free download at http://harsha-iyer.bandcamp.com/album/when-its-time-part-one or www.reverbnation.com/harshaiyer