By Shershah Ahmed: Abrar Ul Haq may have taken a hiatus from making music to focus on charitable foundations and a foray into politics, but his musical legacy remains very much intact. With scores of hit singles and videos, multiple awards for best pop act from Lux Style Awards and PTV Awards, and the fact that his debut album was the best selling pop album in South Asia in 1995, Abrar’s claim to fame is very much justified. The pop and bhangra legend, after establishing Sahara for Life Trust, a charitable organization aimed at promoting health and education in remote and rural areas of Pakistan as well as being the secretary foreign affairs for Pakistan Tehreek-E-Insaaf is now finally back in the music game, with his latest album ‘Aithay Rakh’. Partnering with Taazi and ARY Digital, Abrar Ul Haq’s ‘Aithay Rakh’ is indeed a breathtaking comeback and a must listen for any pop and bhangra fan!
The album starts off with the title track, ‘Aithay Rakh’ starts off with ground shaking bass accompanied by dhols and the harmonica. The song wastes no time in launching into a chorus which is so catchy its almost unfair. Needless to say this track will be a staple for the next wedding season, and if it’s performed live it will lead to unrestrained dance-alongs! The next song on the track, hearkens back to the former albums by him. ‘Billo‘ starts off with the words ‘ayi Billo ayi’ and that is very true! The song certainly brings it with the classic Abrar Ul Haq bhangra sound, which is catchy as much as it is upbeat. ‘Aaj bhi Billo zinda hai’ sings Abrar, which showcases that bhangra, and by extension Abrar being a musical force to be reckoned with, is still very much alive today!
Further down the track list, ‘Tere Bin’ slows things down as it enters more ballad territory. Flutes, tasteful dhol playing and etheral guitar work all melds in a brilliant way with Abrar’s crooning vocals. The lyrics coupled with the music conjure up images of love and harmony and this can be a great song to be performed live as the crowd loves nothing more than a good ballad. The track entitled ‘Ishq Di Boti’ throws a curveball because it does not follow the traditional bhangra formula. Its starts off more like a jazz song with a very unorthodox drum intro with saxophones with a thundering bass line giving weight to the whole thing. It becomes a melting pot of various Western genres which are brilliantly fused with the more traditional Punjabi elements. All in all its a song that is put together extremely well. ‘Ladli’, another radio friendly track with the potential of being a hit starts off with an etheral playing of the flute which leads into the traditional string instruments interspersed with light drums, which come together with the vocals to form a very melancholic and atmospheric track, perfect for listening to long drives through the Punjab countryside.
All in all, as far as comeback albums go, this one is holds its own without a doubt. The sound is very similar to his previous works and that is not a bad thing at all, it is actually the strongest point of the album. Abrar Ul Haq has definitely not lost his touch and it is quite safe to say that ‘Aithay Rakh’ will spawn a series of hits much like his previous albums had. Coupled with his huge launch concert in Bahria Town Lahore, and his partnership with Taazi and ARY Digital to promote it, Abrar is all set to take Pakistani music by storm. Head on over to Taazi.com to download ‘Aithay Rakh’ and get your bhangra groove on!