Humsafar/Tum Aa Jao - Abbas Ali Khan (2003)

One is pleasantly surprised when one comes across Abbas Ali Khan's (Liaqut Ali Khan's grandson) debut album "Humsafar" or, as it has been recently retitled and re-released as, "Tum Aa Jao". Here, there is no attendant hype at all. The album actually came out over a year ago and despite a good word of mouth buzz, flopped in the market due to horrible distribution. So Abbas ended up terminating his contract with the first label and is re-releasing the album through another label. Due to label restrictions he has had to change the title of "Humsafar", and by adding a new title song to the album he re-released it under the name of "Tum Aa Jao".

The album in general is pretty much quite similar to "Parastish" (Ahmed Jehanzeb) in lyrical substance but is different in that it is a tad better and deals with more moods. It is either that or since the level of expectation was not as high with Abbas Ali Khan, one has been pleasantly surprised.

Notwithstanding, low expectations, this album has one gem on it. "Jaanay Kya Hai" is a masterwork of mellow laidback music. It has striking similarities to Sting's "When We Dance" and even its spectacular video by Shehryar Hydri quite significantly copies the Sting video's feel. But unlike most chappas this really does not take much away from the song. The production is excellent and the song is pretty much perfectly put together. The melody is unique in its laidback feel and this song alone makes the album well worth the purchase.

The rest of the album is quite a nice one, even a brave one. Abbas has tried his hand at various styles. Some he manages to pull off, others he struggles with. "Chori Chori", the rock number demonstrates his limitations: when he tries to pep it up he is found lacking in energy and expression. Having said that, the instrumentation on "Chori Chori" is still quite spectacular. The guitars are steeped in jazz-rock and play well if a tad without restraint. "Tum Aa Jao" is one of the better tracks, an atmospheric dance number. The vocals are still somewhat listless but the driving music carries the songs along well enough. Otherwise, there is a fair bit of filler to this album. Abbas, in the end, even has to resort to an instrumental to fill up space.

Overall, the effort and presence of passion is evident here and requires a listening and encouragement. The passion was somewhat found lacking in "Parastish". "Humsafar" or "Tum Aa Jao", as it is now called, slightly edges out Ahmad Jehanzeb's debut in the mellow love-oriented stakes, if not in column space and hype.

Mohammad A. Qayyum
The News International, Pakistan