Artist: Zeb Alam
Dj Ali Mustafa is at it again. Working with new artists has become his forte and 23-year-old Zeb Alam is the latest artist to join the ranks. Zeb's solo album appeared out of thin air in markets without any buzz around it and it seems that it will go down in the same vein.
And that is because there is nothing interesting about this record. It's one love ditty after another with some electric riffs thrown in here and there. They meander on endlessly and it's quite annoying.
The opening track, 'Khoya Raha' with its sharp riffs and 'Teray Meray Darmiyan/Aaye Kyun Faasle' is a clue to the endless maze that is Sapney. If dreams are haunted by love, as the lyrics reflect, the conviction in vocals that wrenches the heart isn't there. Why does Atif Aslam work? It isn't just because of his growth as a musician but that voice that made him stand out in 2004 with 'Aadat'. The carrying of emotions is important for a singer for the listener to fall into the world of music.
'Sapney' - the title track - has some character. The soft piano and the weeping violin with Zeb singing, 'To Kya Huwa/Phir Bhi Jeena Hai/Aansoo Hai Tau Ansoo Peena Hai/Na Kuch Kisi Se Kehna Hai' - the song slowly builds towards a crescendo and Javed Iqbal's violin and Ali Mustafa's instrumentation is just bang on.
From 'Sapney' we cross 'Tum', (the song that is eerily similar to Roxen's 'Toa Phira Aao (remixed version)', 'Aao Na', the rock song that has one foot in progressive rock, another in Junoon's old raw Talaash days and one in the world of pop love and it all flies right through the head without registering.
'Mahiya' (yet another one...) sounds like a song right out of a Pakistani or perhaps an Indian film, with its up-tempo frenzy of sticky sounds and the only imagery that comes to mind is of lush green locales with film stars running around. It is rather amusing. If that's your cup of tea, give it a listen. Otherwise skip it.
There are hints of hope in songs such as 'Pehla Pyar', but they too are all about love. It's quite boringly done. One doesn't expects gems like Ali Azmat's 'Na Re Na', Zeb and Haniya's 'Rona Chor Diya', Strings's 'Humsafar' or 'Titliyan' or Atif Aslam's all-new 'Wasta Pyar Da' but there has to be some ingredients that make one give Zeb Alam another listen.
The effort behind Sapney is not by Zeb Alam alone.
The lyricists range from Arafat Ali (who wrote the major chunk of the words) to Bilal Saeed. It seems (from the album credits) that the only thing Zeb Alam has done is sing on this record. And if that is his forte, he falters time and again. The emotions don't reflect the true mood of the song because the vocals fall flat. Its shaky ground for a new artist. And these vocals may be struck by studio effects which can go awry at times. He's young and has a long way ahead but with Sapney as a debut, Zeb needs to work more on connecting with the words via his voice that has an uncanny resemblance (at times) to Roxen's Mustafa Zahid!
Verdict: Zeb Alam needs to figure out the kind of artist he wants to be and run with it. His vocals are his biggest assest and they need more conviction to pull off complex emotions that make an album worthwhile.