Chords & Notes

No Strings Attached - N' Sync (HMV, Rs.125)

After the spectacular success of their debut album, this all-boy band got into trouble with their recording company on issues of royalty and creative control. The songs of 'No Strings Attached' were recorded during this period when the band was not even sure if the album would ever get released. The album finds N' Sync trying to move a little away from the 'boy band' sound.

Sure, the syrupy ballads ("This I Promise You," "That's When I'll Stop Loving You") make their presence felt, but there is a little more grit and anger that comes forth in other numbers such as "Bye, Bye, Bye" and "It Makes Me III."

The Michael Jackson influence is evident throughout the album. "Space Cowboy" and the title track are dance numbers meant for party animals. Incidentally, the name of the band stems from the last letter of the names of the band members - Chris Kirk Patrick, Joey Fatone, Justin Timberlake, J. C. Chasez and Lansten Bass - Good.

Kaash - Hariharan (Magnasound, Rs.60)

Contemporary Urdu blues... That is how Hariharan has described his latest ghazal offering, "Kaash." This effort, that took nearly two years to make, sees Hariharan back in form as a ghazal singer. The lyrics have been contributed by well-known poets such as Munavar Masoom, Muzaffar Warsi and Taheen Faraz, while the music has been conceived and composed by Hariharan himself.

What makes this album sound different are the arrangements. In fact, Hariharan's singing is in the traditional mode. The arrangements blend Indian instruments such as the sitar and the sarangi with the Western harp, cello, violin and bass guitar, to give it a 'fusion' feel.

The guest artises are virtually the who's who in music. Ustad Sultan Khan on the sarangi, Ustad Rais Khan on the sitar, Sivamani (percussion), Navin on flute and the two Peters, Carl and Keith, on bass.

The title track sets the pace for the rest of the album. The tracks such as "Hum Ne Ek Shaam," "Jhoom Le" and "Maikade" showcase the rich and regal voice of this versatile singer, best suited for ghazals.

The highpoint is the melodious exchange between the sitar playing by Rais Khan and the singing of Hariharan. And for a change, Sivamani has a subdued and subtle role to play. A lovely offering from Hariharan who reverts back to his first love - ghazals. Very Good.

Tanha Dil - Shaan (Virgin, Rs. 65)

Our very own desi teeny bopper attempting a more 'grown-up' album. "Tanha Dil" begins on a promising note with the title track which is a pleasant fusion of rock and Indian folk a la Euphoria. But from here, the album nosedives. The rest of the tracks are wanting in melody and Shaan's voice lacks depth and feeling that was prominent in some of his playback songs such as "Musu Musu Hati."

"Gumsum" is a slightly slower track with a classical edge to it, while "Tujh Sa Nahin" is a hip hop workout complete with rap by Bob Bobcat and backing vocals by Caliche. But one wonders about the need for English words in a Hindi song.

The other numbers, that include the more desi hip hop "Bhool Ja," "Is pyar mein" and the fast paced anthemic "Shaan se," just fill the slots. A mediocre effort. Fair.

S. P.