Falam Connection - Falam (2001)

After a gap of good four years, Fakhr is back with "Falam Connection". This is the fifth album of the singer and it marks a change in Fakhr's priorities both in music and in life. For once Fakhr has decided to get serious in life and experiment more with music. Hence the name Falam, which Fakhr would like to be known as in future, since he feels that his original name Fakhr-e-Alam is too long. As for the "Connection" part of the name, according to the singer, "through this album, listeners will notice a different artist and a different pop culture," so this album marks a tie-up between Fakhr of the past and the future.

For those who expect "Falam Connection" to be another bhangra-rap album in order, can heave a sigh of relief since Fakhr has tried to divert from what many think is his forte - rap. But then it's not a complete metamorphosis since it has that touch of vibrant and fun-loving Fakhr we have known for almost a decade now. So wait till Fakhr undertakes a complete transformation and gets into a serious mode. For now, here is Fakhr or Falam for you!

The 13 songs collection aims to target the youth market and is a mix of fast, peppy, with slow, melancholic and meaningful numbers. Compositions have been done by Fakhr himself, Nadeem Jafri and Akhtar Qayyum while lyrics have been penned down by Nadeem Asad, Akhtar Qayyum, Sabir Zafar, Nadeem Jafri and Fakhr again.

Qawwali dominates majority of the album as a result of which we get "Husn Waalon", "De De Dil" and "Direct Connection". All three are sprightly songs with the usual fun and hungama that Fakhr is known for. "Husn Wallo", however, stands out for its vibrant and catchy beats. It can make a good listening in car and also in mayun and mehndi ceremonies where bhangra pao mood prevails. Starting with two chirpy numbers, "Dharti Ki Kasam" sets the tone for a serious mood. One is already familiar with this number since Fakhr has played it off and on in concerts. However, this patriotic number is still a far cry from a "Dil Dil Pakistan" or a "Jazba-e-Junoon". "Khuda Ki Kasam" is a soft, melodious piece but sounds like a western song. "Shikway Gillay" is an attempt at soft romantic music. Despite good music, lyrics leave a lot to be desired here. Though our singers are doing a good job in music, lyrics is one area which demands their attention as Pakistani music has always been known for it's original and meaningful lyrics. "Talaash" addresses the issue of identity crises that our youth is facing. It's a slow number and sometimes sounds like a jingle. However, lyrics are too simple and since the song is supposed to convey a consequential message, one craves for more sententious lyrics.

Fakhr cannot stay serious for long and in a lighter vein demands a Green Card Waali to ensure a luxurious life. "Ishq" is a peppy number and if given in the hands of a talented video director, it can make an interesting watching. "Padosan" has Fakhr back in his usual spirits. He mouths the lines so fast that one has to listen to it three times before one could have an idea as to why this fussy neighbour has been the center of Fakhr's world and song. "Dil Ka Mamla" has got musical notes loud enough to make it difficult to hear the singer.

It's time to get serious again and Fakhr exerts the change in mood with "Fana". Out of all the serious songs in the album, "Fana" stands out thanks to it's good music and depth that lyrics carry. This song, if publicized well, can actually occupy a good position on musical charts. "Zindagi" is worth pressing that Fast Forward button on. The album closes on a non-serious note with "Direct Connection" which is actually a wish-list that the singer extends to God. This Qawwali number is humorous and though, it does remind one of Adnan Sami's "Lift Karade", is a good one in it's own respect.

At the end of the day "Falam Collection" is an interesting experience and apart from a few songs, it does make an enjoyable listening. However, one still feels that Fakhr should stick to his usual rap mood since his peppy numbers outdo the serious ones. This is not to say that Fakhr should give up experimentation as it's important for the growth of an artist. Lets hope Fakhr's fifth attempt breathes a fresh lease of life in the local music scene before Hindi and western pop music sweeps it under the carpet.

Zeenia Shaukat
The News International, Pakistan