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GV – Old Habits Die Hard – dissected track-by-track

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Silencing his critics, GV delivers the goods with his 2nd album release. This is what Chakdey.com has to say about it…

Almost three years after releasing the promising From the Ground Up, GV is back with his sophomore album Old Habits Die Hard. Although the debut record had its moments, it didn’t truly stand out amongst the lacklustre releases of 2010, leaving GV on the mid-card of Bhangra producers. During the three year gap between albums, GV helped relaunch the career of the deported Garry Sandhu with “Brick” and laid the sonic foundation for Jati Cheed’s “Tere Toh Vagher,” one of the musical highlights of 2012. Although he wasn’t overly prolific throughout the past few years, GV continued to put out worthwhile material, creating hype for Old Habits Die Hard, a stellar sophomore album that easily surpasses From the Ground Up.

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The electric guitar, which doesn’t always blend comfortably into Punjabi music, opens the album up on “Aaj Kal,” featuring H-Dhami. GV, who utilizes the guitar intelligently and makes it work on a Bhangra track, provides an upbeat soundscape for what is currently H-Dhami’s best song. Dhami’s vocals are pleasant and reminiscent of Palvinder Dhami during his more reserved vocal performances, contained on songs like “Oah Yaaro Kaun Nachdi.” Whether H-Dhami can belt out vocals like those of his father’s on “Teri Akh De Ishare” is yet to be seen, but the junior Dhami’s vocals work just fine on GV’s album opener.

Ik Vari” is further proof that Jati Cheed is one of the superior vocalists in the UK Bhangra market. The range and depth to his vocals is just phenomenal. Although the track is passable, it shows a reduction in quality when compared to GV and Jati Cheed’s previous collaboration on “Tere Toh Vagher.” Old Habits Die Hard would have been a stronger product with “Tere Toh Vagher,” but perhaps GV is a selfless soul who has allowed Jati Cheed to keep the better song for his own album.

The laid-back “Akhiyan Da Nasha” drops island rhythms galore as Roach Killa, who is definitely an acquired taste amongst Bhangra aficionados, blends English and Punjabi in glorious auto-tune. GV’s blissful use of the flute on this track is reminiscent of filmi legends of the past, like Laxmikant Pyarelal (See: “Tu Mera Jaanu Hai” and “Aaj Phir Tumpe Pyar Aaya Hai”)

The exemplary use of the flute continues on “Day and Night,” featuring a brilliant performance from Rohit Kumar. Bringing back the electric guitar, GV deftly fuses the instrument with the flute for what should be a dissonant effect, but proves to be congruous through GV’s production skills. GV also manages to use a perfectly timed sound effect that mimics a clock to correspond to Rohit Kumar’s words.

As for the next track “Brick,” we should all know it by now. As mentioned earlier, it helped reintroduce Garry Sandhu after his unfortunate deportation. The melody is similar to “Chite Suit Te,” but this song is superior and should replace the overplayed Geeta Zaildar track, which has ventured into “De De Gera” territory by being completely rinsed on the dance floor.

Lak Hile” represents one of the weaker moments on Old Habits Die Hard. It’s a competently produced song, featuring prominent tumbi and sarangi, but the bland lyrics about a majajan’s lak hurt the track. It’s a tired subject matter and an even more tired line. If you want to hear about the rhythmic movement of a majajan’s lak, listen to the original from Harcharan Grewal and Surinder Kaur.

After the mundane “Lak Hile,” comes a moment of unadulterated brilliance in “Verri Jaan De.” Featuring a faultless vocal performance from T-Minder which is clearly emphasized through GV’s production choices, this track is the defining moment on the album. Refraining from any noticeable percussion for about two minutes, GV lets T-Minder’s voice shine over a dignified composition. Unfortunately, a rap verse comes towards the three minute mark, but Raxstar delivers meaningful lines and doesn’t really hurt the cadence of the track. As the song slows down to a fade, a beatbox effect is used and then comes the supreme highlight of Old Habits Die Hard, as GV drops a brief instrumental, which – if you’re a 90s child – will induce goose bumps. Borrowing from the soundscape Stanley Clarke provided to Ice Cube and company during their prowl to avenge Morris Chestnut’s murder in John Singleton’s landmark 1991 film Boyz N The Hood, GV complexifies the original creation by adding a plethora of emotive layers, making for an absolutely ingenious piece of music.

Following the brilliant complexities of “Verri Jaan De,” Garry Sandhu makes his second appearance on the barebones of “Cheta Aunda.” Not to compare Garry Sandu to Kuldeep Manak, but GV employs the art of minimalism to accentuate the singer’s yearnful vocals so effectively, it’s reminiscent of the Manak Ji classic, “Sahiban Kaulan.”

And then comes “Girls,” a well-produced and well-sung track featuring the always on-point Sudesh Kumari. This attempt at promoting gender equality is marred by a chorus where the singer questions the audience as to where sons would get married if there were no females. Not only is this stating the obvious, but it also discounts the promiscuous, celibate and gay lifestyle. To this chorus, one might question why there is so much importance placed on marriage. And is marrying a puth the defining moment in a female’s life because the chorus sure seems to suggest that’s the case. Other than the questionable chorus, the song is admirable and a much-needed folk moment on Old Habits Die Hard.

The album ends on a high note as GV applies a 90s Hip-Hop aesthetic, featuring vocal samples from James Brown and Cypress Hill’s B-Real, to the “Legends Boliyan.” A dusty vinyl intro, followed by mimimal boombap, eventually proceeds into a journey to the glory days of Bhangra bands from the 80s and 90s. The voices behind Premi, Heera, Apna Sangeet, the Safri Boys and DCS all make appearances for a great climax to one of the defining albums of the summer of 2013. The track does sound a bit incomplete without Jassi Premi, but that’s just a quibble because GV has delivered a multidimensional effort that moves him up a notch to the list of elite producers in the game. No longer a mid-carder, GV has earned main event status with an album that offers folk, Hip-Hop, modern Bhangra, effective minimalism and honors our beloved stars of the 80s and 90s. Living up to the promise of From the Ground Up, Old Habits Die Hard is a quality release that will surely find itself on year-end lists for the best albums of 2013.

We give the album 4 out of 5.

Old Habits Die Hard released worldwide on 15th August 2013 via iTunes, Google Play & Amazon MP3

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