Review: ‘Blood, Sweat and Tears’
Track 1- Gitiyan
A teasing little intro gives us a taste of the Taj- E sound, before track one finally slams into full action. Gitiyan sums up what Taj- E is truly about- blending the traditional desi vibes he creates with the street sounds of urban Britain. The track definitely has a sneaky hip hop feeling to it that just adds to its intoxicating addiction. The vocals of Rashi are sweet and melodic and fit the track well. Mukki- G also delivers a good performance, and you know if he’s on the track then it’s going to be a top notch production. Not as catchy as Duppata from the Soundpipe’s other major recent album, ‘Poison’, but still a very good opening first track which sets the direction of the album clearly.
Track 2- Aja Ni Rakane
Nice to see that the album doesn’t do the traditional and jump from an upbeat number straight down into a chilled track. Aja Ni Rakane continues to raise the energy that track one produced. A much more subtle tune but still you can’t help but move along, especially when the chorus is in full swing. Bee2 puts up a competent performance on vocals which fit the track well in most places. Again, Taj- E has balanced his desi sound with urban licks in what is a good effort. Not as catchy immediately as track one, but it will definitely get you moving.
Track 3- Jattan Ne Daaru
The intro to this track is unbelievably urban and the production has a turntabilist vibe to it, which blends perfectly with Sahib’s vocals. However, the outstanding start isn’t really continued and Jattan Ne Daaru turns into a rather bland and average track. Don’t get me wrong it’s not bad, just nothing outstanding. There is a definite American vibe to this tune however the rapping definitely isn’t up to standard. Mind you compared to some of the ‘rapping’ on bhangra tracks from recent times it isn’t that bad an effort. Not quite a filler, it’s definitely better than that, but it just lacks any real spark. However, a nice idea from Taj- E as he is trying to do what many producers have failed to do- blend rap and bhangra together successfully.
Track 4- Sajna
To be honest I have trouble telling many of these slow bhangra songs apart these days, as they all seem so formulaic in drum structure, vocal style and overall vibe. Sajna is no exception and is definitely maybe one for the older generation to enjoy, or maybe one to play on those chilled out afternoons. It’s a beautiful track but again it offers nothing new to what has already been done before by so many more producers. A good effort though and the vocals of D. Arry certainly live up to the task at hand.
Track 5- Jatta
I actually believe this track is a nice little surprise from Taj- E, and rather than going straight back into the urban style, he’s produced a genuine and hypnotic traditional desi number. I’d never really heard of Rashi before this album, but her vocal performance as with track one shows a lot of promise and talent. Her voice fits perfectly and adds to the folk style vibe that Jatta brings to the listener. The chorus will definitely have your hands in the air. You can’t beat old school vibes like this. It’s simple but infectious. Just the kind of direction bhangra should be heading back in. A definite surprise tune from this album.
Track 6- Tenu Vekkhe
We’re back into the urban swing of things as Mukki- G stands and delivers his vocals for Tenu Vekkhe. However, Like Jattan Ne Daaru, it’s another simplistic track where you feel very little is actually going on. I feel this was the same problem with ‘Poison’, that some of the tracks had the potential to be killers but just didn’t evolve. It’s the same kind of problem here. It’ll get you moving in places but you just feel as if you’re waiting for something to kick in.
Track 7- Dhol Vajda
One word- Unbelievable. Taj-E has everything perfect on this track and it shows just what a talented producer he can be. It has that perfect bhangra flavour again blended with that urban vibe, but the secret is it is not too over-bearing and Taj- E is certainly letting the desi sound do the work. A massive track and a country mile ahead of anything else on this album. You can’t help but bounce to this amazingly addictive tune and Darminder delivers a great vocal performance which just boosts this track even further. When I see Dhol Vajda I automatically thing of the Tigerstyle hit, but maybe from now on Taj- E’s Dhol Vajda will also come into my mind. Superb.
Track 8- Sajawan
D’Arry’s haunting vocals slam into the introduction of this track, before we are greeted with the usual drum sequence. However, this track has me in mixed emotions. In parts you feel this is a slow song, but in others it’s definitely a tune that will have you smiling and moving along. The end result of the fusion of these two vibes is a track which is different from a lot of bhangra I’ve heard recently and it’s a nice twist. A really upbeat but chilled tune which kind of reminds me slightly of Dil Upna from Taj- E’s last album. A sweet track which is extremely pleasing to listen to.
Track 9- Jaan
Track 9, again, is your standard slow song. Haunting vocals, chilled vibes and your standard drums. Darminder does what he has to on the vocal side of things. Maybe I underestimate the power of these slower songs, but I’m just not a big fan. It definitely adds variety, but for somebody who loves their bhangra hard, edgy and danceable, this certainly doesn’t fit the bill.
Track 10- Raan Bottal Club Mix
Raan Bottal from Dil Upna makes a welcome return as Taj- E gives the track a ‘Club’ refix. Again, he uses his standard urban sound but I feel as if this is a filler. It certainly doesn’t add anything that the original version didn’t have. An ok attempt at sending this track in a new direction but it’s nothing major or new.
‘Blood, Sweat and Tears’ has definitely left me with mixed feelings. In places this album is magnificent. You have Dhol Vajda which is explosive, and you also have Jatta which has really grown on me and is equally a stand out point on this album. Taj- E has proved beyond doubt his immense talent as a producer and fuser of desi and urban sounds.
However, I think that this album in places falls back too much on safe production- tracks which are ok but nothing new. And to an extent this leaves you disappointed, because if every track was up to the standard of Dhol Vajda this would be an immense album. Instead it’s a good album, but it could have offered so much more than it does. But you have to say Taj- E is definitely taking a step in the right direction.