Interestingly though, there’s a way these songs are also true to their current milieu. Jaimin was very clear that he wanted his song to be in the same accent as his conversation and was careful to ensure that the American accent was kept at bay (which, for meter reasons, creeps sometimes). In fact, it’s not hard to identify this as an Indian accent over the songs. This layer of authenticity is hugely important in an Indian context where English covers are mostly performed with a foreign accent here often even more pronounced than in the original (and most original English songs made in India carry this intellectual colonization, or aspiration, even more poignant).
And that’s the other big achievement of the songs on the album – the way they were done. The main musicians are Subharaj Ghosh on guitar, Arka Chakraborty on piano, Protyay Chakraborty and Rajarshi Das on violin, Aniruddha Saha and Arjun Chakroborty on drums and percussion, Rohan Ganguli and Ralph Pais on bass – hardened jazz musicians among them, world class even (Kolkata has a tradition of this, as many know).
Overqualified to perform on an album like this that required very simple executions from them, they followed the vision of the least accomplished instrumentalist among them – Jaimin, but also held their own. A Bengali staple and cultural superiority complex aside (full disclosure: I’m three-quarters Bengali myself), it’s a serious feat that the album is devoid of virtuoso forays or individualistic loose threads.
Some of India’s best-known independent musicians have also contributed small parts of songs, including Rahul Ram (from Indian Ocean), Ralph Pais (from Savages), Abhay Sharma (from The Revisit Project), Rohan Ganguli ( from Supersonics), classical guitarist Deepak Castelino and sitarist Kalyan Majumdar, plus Bluegrass musicians Patrick Fitzsimons and Billy Cardine (both based in the US) – all of their parts are coming remotely. In fact, the whole album, which started with Jaimin just laying down his parts alone during the pandemic lockdown, was built that way brick by brick. Later, Protyay Chakraborty did the mixing and mastering, playing his own important role in making these songs sound as good as they do. In this perfect storm of quality, just about everyone worked on the album for little or no money – which explains the surprisingly low cost of barely a lakh rupees to do so. As Jaimin likes to joke – “how can I call myself an ‘independent artist’ considering the help I’ve received from so many people?”
The entire album, which started with Jaimin just laying down his parts alone during the pandemic lockdown, was built brick by brick. Later, Protyay Chakraborty did the mixing and mastering, playing his own important role in making these songs sound as good as they do.
The end result is an hour-long collection of 14 songs that come and go, with enough variation between them despite being bound by a common essence. And without a single filler among them, not one. Unlike most modern albums, even by many big international bands these days, it’s not very heavy where it starts well and gradually wears out (in fact, tracks 5-9 might even represent the peak of this album, even though literally every song here has the potential to be someone’s favorite). The album’s easy-listening vibe is very deceptive as it demands listener participation, which is where its depth lies. And the sense of wonder it quietly builds. Once its intricacies are settled, its album power continues to grow cumulatively, and deepens with repeated listening.