Classy and fabulous: love me again



May it be Elizabeth I’s Empire or Babar’s Sultanate, young women were always required to know how to stitch, sew, paint, draw and sing. The western world has continued with the trend of singing in particular and has now taken it far ahead – at times incomprehensible to the Eastern gods of liberation.

The cover of John Newman’s “Love Me Again” produced by Xulfi in the Nescafe` Basement Season 4 was a feat not only because it was an all girls’ ensemble but also because it was a blend so smooth, a raptureso exquisite that Newman himself could not refrain from passing a compliment.

Both, the original and the cover tell a story: their narratives being absolutely and immensely distinct. The cover starts with piano notes awakening a sunrise within you while the original foreshadows a sunset from the very beginning. Being an avid listener, at the end of the day, we come to enjoy both the scores but there are certain clear demarcations – possibly likeable or not.

From the lead vocalist Anna Salman, the sitar player, Arfa Chaudhry and the violinist, Amal Nadeem, Nescafe Basement managed to juice out the pulp of music. Their love for music is felt not only in the invisible sound waves, but also in their gestures, a slight shift of the shoulder as the sitar’s strings unseal the rhythm, the angular tilt of the chin before the mic a mere fraction, the persisting flick of the fingers on the Ukulele – all commending and all stringing a story that takes us to placenta of musiqueelle-même.

An adaptation with the inclusion of our local instruments, they are gelled so well with the concocting rhythm of the original score. Let me state this as a fact on behalf of every ear lent to music: it does not seem out of place at all. The feminity in the music is not just from the singers’ but also from the instruments.

Arfa Chaudhry on the sitar being a black belt champion in Taekwondo with Jannat Sohail being a composer, a songwriter who knows how to play the guitar, the ukulele and the keyboard, to Sanya Shahzad skilled in guitar, bass, piano, cajon and ukulele, one would imagine them to be much over thirty years of age to have achieved so much. The youngest of the lot is yet a teenager and the oldest, not older than a score and two years!

Produced by Xulfi, the idea is yet ambivalent: how and why the thought of adding a sitar and table to this composition came to him. These two instruments stand out not because they are a part of our ethnicity, but because the sitar and the tabla, essentially two strong instruments in telling the mystical tales of Heer and Ranjha, released the stress from the composition.

Another very dominant aspect is how, apart from the music welded together so finely, visually speaking, what musicians wore is in-sync with their musical expertise. It does not escape an observer’s vision that the sitar player wore an Eastern dress along with SumairaWaris on the tabla even covering her head, whereas the guitarists Kristin Kanaria and Maria Fatima, the singers among the rest supporting candid jeans and casual tees. Was it by choice or mere coincidence, I must not dwell. However, the mere idea expressed above is a joy to behold, especially when I am in oblivion to their individual reasons.

The original by John Newman is fast-paced. When watched, it is overwhelming and rather enthralling to see Newman exude his over-bearing lyrics through his visually captivating gestures, especially around the not-so-forlorn mic. A song of confession seeking assurance has a very definite title: to “Love Me Again”.