After completing his quests as a singer-songwriter and music director for mainstream Bollywood movies like Gehraiyaan, Gully Boy and as a curator of latest season of Coke Studio Bharat, Ankur Tewari has returned to his home turf with his first studio album since 2017, Akela. The album marks an important career milestone, not just for the artist but also his new label, Tiger Baby Records, co-founded with Bollywood directors, Zoya Akhtar and Reema Kagti.
‘Akela’ brings forward a previously unseen and unexplored side of the singer as he drifts away from his usual youthful guitar based acoustic sound and ventures into a more mature, melancholic dream pop soundscape produced by Rohan Ramanna of Salvage Audio Collective. Like a lot of people including myself, Ankur was also forced to face his insecurities and loneliness during the dreadful lockdown which inspired this very personal, dark, dreamy and existential project that explores relationships and loneliness.
“It’s important for me to document what I am going through in a poetic form, so that I can look back and remember more than what I can see, and see more than I can remember.”Ankur Tewari
The album starts with ‘Parwaana’. A roomy post-apocalyptic track that is composed to perfection. Ankur’s dreamy falsetto vocals, the spotless melodies and the switch from hopeless low pitch chords to a more optimistic sound in the pre-chorus as he sings about heartbreak, climacteric drums, all of it came together perfectly to build what could arguably be termed as the best song to come out of the indian indie space this year yet.
With the title track, Tewari writes an ode to his loneliness. A melancholic dream pop which completely justifies it’s five minute long runtime with brilliant songwriting and fervent singing.
‘Iss Dil Ka Aisa Hi Hai’ starts with a cinematic spoken word transitioning into a vibrant second half which embodies hope and witnesses the protagonist breaking loose from all the gloominess of the past. ‘Gunjaayish Hai’ and ‘Ik Dooje Ke Liye’ are two tracks that carry forward this hopefulness. Tewari’s writing takes the center stage as he talks about love and longing. Having a similar song structure, both the tracks feature beautiful singalong-able hooks.
Before the grand last track, spirited songs like ‘Doobey’ and ‘Hum (Reprise)’ come as breathers which aren’t something out of the ordinary but fill up the space pretty well. ‘Sawaal’, another spoken word track with dark ambient experimental production closes the album in a pretty dramatic fashion.
Ankur Tewari’s 8-track album ‘Akela’ is a brave and bold effort for the singer as he confronts his long repressed emotions and bares his soul in front of the audience. He manages to build an emotional connection with the listener through his vulnerable self with a crisp runtime and ambient production enhancing the listening experience of the album manifolds. It is definitely one of the better release this year that would be hard to top.