My review of Srabonti’s album launch (as published in the Daily Star)

Click here to read online at the Daily Star.

I wrote this as an assignment when I had the privilege of going to Srabonti Ali’s first solo album, in collaboration with Arnob. It was a particularly chilly December night and Srabonti was dressed in her casual jeans and black cover, singing some of her new works while fans cheered on in the courtyard. Izumi in Gulshan 2 was booked in its entirety for the event which included close friends and followers, in particular of Arnob. Read below for details:

Album Launch

Srabonti Ali’s “Deluded”

By Olinda Hassan

On a cold Monday (December 19) evening, music enthusiasts and well-wishers gathered at Izumi in Gulshan, Dhaka to celebrate the unveiling of Srabonti Narmeen Ali’s album “Deluded”. With Buno (Bangla) on bass and Zohad (Nemesis) on percussion in an intimate setting, Srabonti, in collaboration with Arnob, delivered a stirring performance, starting with the single “Badha”. “Deluded” is an evocative, engaging debut for Srabonti, who described her first solo album as “eccentric, real, and varied.” With both Bangla and English pieces blended together to create a new kind of collection, the album was recorded here in Dhaka, a city she describes in several of her singles.

In front of a wall fountain, sitting next to Arnob on the guitar, Srabonti delivered her new music with ease — each song greeted with rounds of applause and cheers from the crowd who came to see and hear the duo. Fans cheered on from Izumi’s courtyard and balcony, especially after the performance of “My City”. Written and composed by Srabonti, “My City” describes the complexities of Dhaka which she personified through her lyrics: “…I think she’s lost her way, in the morning there’s always hell to pay. Me, I’ve made the darkness my home, I’ve found all its demons and together we roam.”

Along with her traditional Bangla music background, Srabonti also grew up with a lot of hip-hop and R&B which comes out in “Deluded”. Bringing in the likes of Bangladeshi rapper Young Hollywood in singles such as “Deluded”, and the much hyped “Shut Up and Dance”, the album echoes the voices of this ever-changing city.

“I loved working with Arnob because he is very open to my suggestions and tried to incorporate who I am in the music,” said Srabonti when asked about her collaboration with the talented musician. “For example, there is a lot of hip-hop in this album, which he isn’t used to but we were still able to incorporate it. He never made me feel like I didn’t have a say in it.”

Srabonti connected with the audience further by going beyond her album and singing a cover of the Dixie Chicks’ version of “Landslide” within her performance. This was followed by transitioning smoothly to singing Sheryl Crow’s “Strong Enough”, further showcasing her hold on multiple music genres. “Along with hip-hop, I also like contemporary country music, like the Dixie Chicks,” Srabonti said with a laugh when asked about her musical approaches. “I am really happy with my solo album, and excited to share something new.”

“Deluded” has been produced and distributed by Rage Records.