Earlier on in the year we reviewed Nirmal Sidhu’s album ‘The Bhangra Star’. With his Son Nav Sidhu closely following in his footsteps with the release of his own debut album, our reviewer Ramneek finds out if he can better the senior citizen and if Nav Sidhu is really ‘Born To Shine’. Check Out the Review!
Earlier on in the year we reviewed Nirmal Sidhu’s album ‘The Bhangra Star’. With his Son Nav Sidhu closely following in his footsteps with the release of his own debut album a month ago, our reviewer Ramneek finds out if he can better the senior citizen and if Nav Sidhu is really ‘Born To Shine’. Check Out the Review below!
Born to current Bhangra royalty, Nav Sidhu has some gargantuan shoes to fill on Born to Shine. The fact that Nirmal Sidhu, Nav’s father, was a late bloomer in the global Bhangra scene makes escaping his shadow even more difficult, as the senior Sidhu’s hits are still fresh in the minds of the Bhangra masses. But Nav Sidhu welcomes the challenge as he joins forces with Tigerstyle, who currently have listeners salivating for Digi-Bhang, for a debut album that is guaranteed to satisfy Bhangraheads.
Starting off with a brief a-cappella, “Kalli Kitey Takrey” finds Tigerstyle providing a mostly traditional arrangement, consisting of the sarangi, tumbi and dhol. Although the production is desi, the Burmys bless the chorus with a subtle electronic loop, which sounds like it belongs on an old Mega Man NES game but it also adds some extra flavor.
“Love Story” ventures deep into electronic territory as Tigerstyle, deciding to leave the standard Bhangra instruments at home, further develop a sound that was pervasive on Bikram Singh’s Bik.I.Am. It’s a decent tune, but represents one of the weaker moments as Sidhu borrows the vocal melody from Amar Singh Chamkila and Surinder Sonia’s “Theke Te Baitha Rehnda,” a song that has already been brilliantly plagiarized on Gippy Grewal’s “Nasha” and ingeniously sampled on Twin Beats’ “Nanke V Dhadke.”
After the Chamkila influenced number, Nav Sidhu glorifies Chandigarh as the place of lovers on the aptly titled “Chandigarh,” an album highlight that sees Sidhu showing his vocal prowess with projections that are kept competently under control. Sidhu is a bit of a restrained vocalist, but that isn’t necessarily a negative thing as it can become quite stomach-churning when singers keep letting out expendable hekhs and start practicing their vocal riyaaz on Bhangra tracks. Adding some depth to the record, Tigerstyle elegantly blends the sounds of the piano and flute on the ballad “Tenu Takiya.” Featuring some heartbreaking lyrics, including a reference to love after death, Sidhu shows versatility on this number.
The flute makes another appearance on the previously released “Londono Phone.” An irresistible celebration of youthful masculinity, the tune is an obvious highlight and caters to jawan munde that engage in vanity by spending eternities staring at the mirror. Although some listeners might feel that the song endorses male egomania, the flute adds a hint of innocence. If used smartly, the flute can suppress the self-obsession of boastful tunes. The instrument is so peaceful that it even somewhat minimized the vitriol of Kuldeep Manak’s “Sahiban Bani Bharawan Di.” Like Ved Sethi, who produced the Manak classic, Tigerstyle are extremely talented producers and they employ the flute effectively.
“Catwalk” finds Tigerstyle experimenting with electronic dance music once again. Saturated with kitschy lyrics, the track is another irresistible number, featuring progressive production and a simple chorus, which can be memorized within seconds for a sing-a-long with Nav Sidhu.
“Maa” is yet another song devoted to our mothers, but this one is rather special. Rather than sounding like a posthumous ode, “Maa” is a celebratory piece. A lot of singers sound like they’re bawling on the mic during Maa tracks – Michael Jackson’s “She’s Out of My Life” style – as if their mothers have passed or on the verge of passing. But there are plenty of listeners who still have their mothers and don’t want to think about the impending mortality of loved ones. And for these listeners, Nav Sidhu’s salute to mothers is worth checking out. Featuring a rich string arrangement and an appearance from the dafli, Tigerstyle’s polished production really helps make this one a worthy candidate for definitive mother anthems in contemporary Punjabi music.
What sounds like a teaser for the highly anticipated Digi-Bhang is actually Dubai’s DJ Shadow almost stealing the show on a remixed version of “Londono Phone.” Stripping the original of its innocence, Shadow carves out a new identity for the song as a grimy club-banger that would be right at home in Dubai’s nightclubs or those sketchy bars Abhay Deol was visiting in Dev.D. After experiencing this track, one wishes DJ Shadow was given legal access to Moviebox Records’ overgrowing catalogue so he could electrify a handful of previously released songs for the album treatment.
Born to Shine is a solid introduction to the Bhangra industry for Nav Sidhu. Backed by the diverse production of Tigerstyle, who have been amongst Bhangra’s elite since The Rising, Sidhu successfully creates his own musical identity. In fact, the listener will easily forget that Nav is Nirmal Sidhu’s son within the first few songs as the two vocalists have completely different styles, voices and the junior Sidhu doesn’t shamelessly exploit his father’s back catalogue – an issue that plagues a lot of second generation singers. Sidhu might just be one of the few second generation vocalists to actually clinch global fame in the near future, and if he maintains his relationship with Tigerstyle, the future is definitely bright for the youngster.
We give it the album a bright 3.5 out of 5
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