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Old Highway Delivers Fresh Off The Boat Blues-Rock Music With Their Debut Album ‘Ziist’

As the name rightly suggests, ‘Old Highway’ is a band that takes us down the memory lane. From the bygone roads, this band powerfully delivers rhythmic melodies, infused with Hindi-Urdu poetry. Based out of Pune, the band was formed in 2016, by bassist Sidd Sharma and vocalist Juilee Sakhre, when they met together for a jamming session. After releasing their first single ‘Raaznama’ in 2017, they wished to move towards a heavier and more rock-infused soundscape. This was when they were joined by Amit Bhatia and Jeet Sharma, on the guitar and drums respectively. “The idea was clear to let every member of the band work in their own comfort zone, try their own method in the desired time, and later to fuse it together and get the best out of us and to make the song sound as better as it could be”, says Juilee.

The outcome was ‘Ziist’, their debut full-length album, featuring songs on the themes of love, life and their nuances. The Urdu word ‘Ziist’ translates to ‘the state of being alive’, and this album truly does justice to bring life to all its tracks. The amalgamation of Hindi-Urdu poetry, with jazz, blues-rock music, is a delight for both poetry and music lovers. This album is rooted in our rich lingual history, and giving a modern twist with blues-rock music, makes it a one-of-a-kind album. Melodious guitar riffs, Juilee’s poignant vocals and deep lyricism are some of the salient aspects of this album.

‘Sheher’ is an upbeat Hindi rock song, which describes perfectly what a city entails. It begins with a smooth guitar riff, and transitions into emotive vocals delivered by Juilee Sakhare, where she talks about how hunger and poverty are commonplace in her city. The post-rock outro is enthralling, and keeps listeners hooked until the end of the track. ‘Sardi Ki Raatein’ is a rock infused romantic ballad, expressing what is to fall in love. The track begins with a melodious guitar riff and towards the end has a lively electric guitar solo performance. The lyrics speak the language of love, and remind us that love can provide warmth to our souls even on cold winter nights. ‘Bekaraan’ is a slow-paced love song, which begins with soft lounge music intro. The word ‘Bekaraan’ literally means limitless, and the track is also reminiscent of Jazz-blues music. Juilee’s mesmerising vocals captures our hearts, with the touch of elegance and innocence. This song is a great listen while relaxing, and remembering the good old days. ‘Bol’ is an energetic track, and it talks about the complexities of love and life, through Hindi-Urdu poetry. The track is also about a girl who is expected to live her life the way others want, and she is trying to question the same through her music. It is composed as a 32-bar form, by Jeet and Amit.

‘Jaise Ki’ is a sombre track, and elucidates how beautiful it is when two souls meet, and time pauses when they are together. There’s a charm in the unknown, and in being lost in our own worlds. Juliee vocals are heart-warming, and the track ends with a calming violin outro. ‘Kaifiya’ is a feel-good romantic song, which is simple and wholesome. ‘Khvab-gah’ is a sing-along song which talks about dreams and desires. The term ‘Khvab-gah’ means a room full of dreams. The intro begins with an acapella section, and the track is a sweet romantic ballad. ‘Khatm Kaali Raatein’ is a blues-rock influenced song with extended guitar solos drums. It’s a song about love, celebration, longing for love, with a twist of intimacy and the need for togetherness. Juliee’s fierce vocals makes this track a power-packed one.

The band members take inspiration from various artists and poets alike. Sidd is influenced by well-known lyricists such as Gulzar, Javed Akhtar, Irshad Kamil and poets like Bashir Badr and Faiz Ahmad Faiz. His musical influences are The Beatles, Paul McCartney, Eagles and also Indian artists like Vishal Bhardwaj. As for Juilee, she has been inspired by Queen, The Beatles, Led Zeppelin, Whitney Houston, Ella Fitzgerald and A.R Rehman.

Amit’s influences range from classic rock to progressive rock and pretty much everything in between. As a guitarist he was highly inspired by guitar instrumentalists such as Joe Satriani, Steve Vai, Ritchie Kotzen to name a few. For Jeet, his inspiration comes from progressive rock and jazz bands/artists like Dream Theater, Benny Greb and Mike Portnoy.

After listening to this album, one feels energetic, groovy and inspired. Listeners will definitely be quite impressed with the rich and in-depth lyrics of each song, which convey deeper meanings of life and love. Themes of love, aspirations, desires and questioning the status-quo makes this album relatable for the audiences. As the name ‘Old Highway’ goes, I think how I would thoroughly enjoy listening to this album on a long road trip, thinking about good memories, lost love, and what’s to come next.

In a joint statement issued by the band, they say “Right now our entire focus is on promoting this album and getting our on-stage chemistry and live sound together for upcoming gigs. Soon enough we’ll be starting to jam on new material and ideas for the next album or an EP. Usually it takes around two to three years for a band to compose and produce a full-length studio album. So, with time and experience, as each of us mature as individuals and as musicians, the future roadmap is to upgrade our musicality and make the best music we possibly can.” Old Highway definitely has a long road ahead of them, with bright future. They look forward to collaborating with indie blues-rock band such as Soulmate and heavy-rock band Skrat in the coming times.

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