This is probably the longest wait that fans of Tamil or AR Rahman’s music has had to experience between a chartbuster single and a full album- six months to be exact. After a combination like Vinathaandi Varuvaaya, which soared up the chartbusters, box office, and also people’s hearts, Guatham Vasudev Menon and AR Rahman coming together again set expectations at a very high bar. Coupled with the fact Silambarasan has returned as the main protagonist, just like VTV, Acham Yenbathu Madamaiyada had big shoes to fill.
VTV’s music and overall ambience was a some sort of cult sensation, the music (and movie) of a generation so to speak. ARR’s compositions were so good they held the roost until today (six years, believe it or not). With AYM, ARR once again returns to very earthly flavour to deliver an album that seems to be time immaterial for Gautham. AYM’s songs are not for today alone, but some years to come.
Avalum Naanum (Vijay Yesudas)
There’s a bit of a mixed feeling when this song starts, as Vijay Yesudas brings the sweetness of his rendition to the fore for this ballad that contains that delectable lyrics by Thamarai- but it seems rather uneventful, albeit breezy for the first minute or so. Then there is an admirable use of the violin, and when the flute takes over, Avalum Naanum is elevated to a become an absolutely stunning beauty where all the pieces fall together perfectly.
Vijay Yesudas going solo on the mic brings in the “Chithirai Nela” feel at times, but the earthly (highly original) feel and sing-along tempo of this song is sure win your ears over, and stay there for some time.
Idhu Naal (Aditya Rao, Jonita Gandhi, AR Rahman)
“Idhu varai edhume alaga illai naan ninaithai poi aakinal.”
Idhu Naal picks up pretty fast, with some nice techno beats. While Avalum Naanum was about companionship, Idhu Naal was all about falling in love. Its a comparatively short ballad, with a gorgeous tempo chorus at the final stanza. Aditya Rao is absolutely fantastic in his crooning and Jonita Gandhi effortlessly complements him.
This is not your song and dance magical “Hosanna”, but a somewhat natural, progressive ballad that seems fitting for the road trip theme that the movie has. But its delicious music nevertheless.
Rasaali (Sathya Prakash, Sasha Thirupaathi)
This was already released as a single several weeks ago, and is definitely, without a shred, or iota of doubt, the best composition of ARR’s in some time. It has that distinct “Aaromalae” feel to it, what more with the generous use of traditional fusion, but at the same time reminds you of “Naane Varugiren” from OK Kanmani.
Overall, you get the “Parandhu Sella Vaa” effect from this song (quietly literally too- fly with the music), but in a different terrain altogether. Thamarai once again does exceptional work with the lyrics.
And of course, I am reserving a line for Sathya Prakash, who makes his full debut with this number, and what a job he has done. ARR has unearthed another gem and handed an absolute winner of a song.
Showkali (Aditya Rao, Aryan Dinesh Kanagaratnam, Sri Rascol)
Think of “Kaara Aatakarra” from OK Kamanani, and give it a little bit more freedom, and you get Showkali. An absolute cocktail mix of beats, but it all settles nicely in keeping up with the theme of the song- a bunch of dudes who worship their bikes (I’m pretty sure it is a Royal Enfield) more than women.
ADK and Sri Rascol are phenomenal with their rap portions. You will have that mind twisting moment in the final stanza when the ARR goes hard on the guitars and two rappers literally go ballistic with their rendition. He has given full freedom to both of them to showcase their talents here, and they have taken them well.
But this being an ARR composition, it is not all high beats and volume- the middle portions crooned by Aditya Rao given a breezy break to add more character, value, and uniqueness to this number. Quite an admirable job done by everyone involved in making Showkali happen. It’s quite a show for the ears.
Thalli Pogathey (Sid Sriram, ADK)
This song has been there for public consumption for six months now, and its general popularity itself is a testament as to good a composition it is. But in the context of this album, Gautham and ARR have gone for nostalgia a little- this was straight of out the “Hosanna” playbook. Thalli Pogathey is to AYM what Hosanna was for VTV.
But that said, Sid Sriram is absolutely mental yet again in his rendition. The highlight of this song is definitely the first stanza, where ARR and Sid almost tease listeners by constantly threatening to break into a higher tempo, but do not do so until they have exhausted the full range capacity of Sid’s vocals. A good minutes in, Rahman brings in the instruments aplenty to settle into a nice rhythm.
No one has ever accused Rahman of being settling or boring, so it is no surprise when ADK comes in and changes the rhythm yet again, but he has an impressive range of rap vocals as well, and he utilises them well.
And this became the winner it is today.
AYM only has five songs, and two of them have already been released as singles. It does not have much to offer in terms of sheer volume, you will be done with the album in less than 30 minutes, but it’s bound your satisfy for ARR’s earthly and original magic.
24 was a good album, but it clearly had a commercial construct to it. AYM is earthly to say the least. Raasali and Avalum Naanum are absolutely sumptuous compositions. Showkali brings in the modern twist- while Thalli Pogathey gorgeously balances both.
And the more you listen to Idhu Naal, it brings the emotion that Anbil Avan gave us six years ago.
Everything you are expecting from a Gautham and ARR album, you will find it here. There might not be many tracks, but each one packs so much soul it’s difficult to look the other way.
Bask. Enjoy. AR Rahman is a promise that keeps on delivering.
Picks: Raasali, Aavalum Naanum, Idhu Naal (if I list more, then I’ll have to list the whole album)