What does Sonny Singh sound like?
Indian trumpets and heritage on a global tour of love and resilience.
The review of Sonny Singh – Chardi Kala
Trumpeteer and vocalist for the band Red Baraat Sonny Singh has a history of making a melting pot of music. That band enjoys mixing and matching cultures and it’s something Sonny carries with him into his own solo career. “Chardi Kala” is his debut album and it sees Sonny returning back to his Punjabi and Sikh roots. However, he has worked in music for a long time, so this album is about mixing those roots into other genres and, most prominently, the western musical world.
Sonny’s intent is made clear in the culture melt of “Aisee Preet”. The foundations are built on Punjabi beats and traditional instruments but the chorus transitions into a trumpet-led indie rock vibe. It doesn’t feel like an awkward transition at all because of how seamlessly integrated all the different genres are from the outset. Sonny’s voice holds everything together beautifully too. “Chardi Kala” reminds me a little of Christopher Tin’s global orchestrations with its sentimental but vast scope and scale. Singh’s brass arrangements and percussion keep the track from feeling sentimental, breathing bright life into the track instead.
After two big numbers Sonny turns his hand to Indian rock with “Ghadar Machao”. This vibrant number reminds me a little of Ricky Martin’s Spanish rock numbers in its tone. “Turiya Turiya Ja” is a light summer chill track with harmonium bass letting the electric guitars and keyboards embrace a reggaeton vibe. “Mitar Pyrae Nu” moves into wedding band territory before “Duniya” brings in a more traditional ballad, reimagined in part with Western instrumentation. Sonny Singh brings his Punjabi and Sikh musical heritage on a world tour, merging it into other cultures with ease. From a global lover of music, I find it galvanising to hear cultures playing in harmony. Be it the Mexican-esque “Thir Ghar Baiso” or the frantic psychedelia traditions of “Sajana Tere Bina” with impressive tabla solos to clap along to, each track is a delight to behold. There’s even time for street band espionage thriller “Rebel” that lets the brass arrangement barrel at you like a bullet.
“Chardi Kala” is an album that feels and sounds truly global. Whilst its roots are in India, its vines spread around the world. It has tracks for moods and continents that feel respectful and impressively fluid with how they’ve been created. Sonny Singh has been at the forefront of merging his roots into other genres for years but this is a superb body of work to put his name to.
Recommended track: Aisee Preet
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