Approaching Tajdar Junaid’s debut album, What Colour is Your Raindrop, is a loaded venture. Junaid and his collaborators create an album that is packed with fantastic ideas and organic sounds.
After a surge of less than mediocre singer/songwriters in India, Tajdar Junaid’s album What Colour is Your Raindrop begs to be heard and re-heard. From the contemplative sound of Prelude to Poland, the first track on the album, to the surprisingly energetic Yadon ki Pari, Tajdar’s bittersweet melody remains constant.
In a space occupied by loud, foot-thumping electronically modified beats, Taj’s album feels soulful and brims with authenticity.
The album, along with its washed out cover, is what can be best described as melancholic, reminiscent of those foggy post-heartbreak moments — the kind you look back on and laugh. Although at first, the instrumentation can be slightly overwhelming, Tajdar’s smart production makes the combined sounds of the guitar, harmonium, sarangi, ukulele, bass and drums pleasing to the ear. It’s easy to recognize the earthy quality his songs possess — they remind me of rain-soaked earth or freshly cut grass. The influence of Indian classical music is immediately evident, but the occasional wave of bluesy sound left me a bit confused — in a good way. The western classical, Celtic, Bretch, Latin and even Bengali folk harmonies get a fair share of representation in Mockingbird, Though I Know and Ekta Golpo.
After listening to the album twice, it became clear to me that Junaid is not some chump showing off his flair for musical instruments. His sound might seem uncomplicated at first, but when you peel back the layers of the album’s folksy overture, what emerges is an intricate and maybe even a little prodigious feat.
My favourite track on the album is Dastaan. The plucking of the strings of the charango, a ten-string mandolin from South America, along with the wailing harmony of what sounds like a sarangi, triggers goose bumps. Allegedly, Taj decided to use long periods of silence in the track to make the listener reflect on the dastaan he is trying to narrate.
Another track that really stands out is Prelude to Poland, an ode to Taj’s favourite composer: Frederic Chopin. It has a slow, tentative start and can be easily dismissed as a track that plays in the background of grave Hollywood war movies. But two minutes into the song, the harmony goes through a tumultuous shift with the introduction of the sarangi. Junaid supposedly wanted to bring out the turmoil the Polish composer felt when he was forced to flee his country during the January uprising of 1863.
Here’s what I love most about this album: Tajdar has very cleverly sequenced the tracks. With truly poignant tracks like Dastaan and Prelude to Poland skillfully placed between the uplifting melodies of Aamna, Ekta Golpo and Aisle, Tajdar paces the listener and gently reels them in.