The Dixit brothers should count themselves lucky. Both of them have been blessed with incredibly powerful voices, musical sense and an ability to speak and thus sing in a few languages. While Vasu, the younger of the two, plays for Swarathma, Raghu Dixit leads the hugely popular The Raghu Dixit Project. Raghu started his musical career with the short-lived Antaragni(sidenote: Antaragni = awesome) but they soon disbanded and Raghu went on to recruit noted musicians like Vijay Joseph and Gaurav Vaz to form The Raghu Dixit Project. Melding folksy Indian music with catchy guitar hooks, TRDP released their album in 2008 to massive audience response as the eponymous album became the highest selling non-film music album of the year 2008-2009.
Raghu Dixit studied and lived in Mysore and it is this period of his life that seems to have influenced his music. Serving as songwriter for RDP, his music is deeply influenced by Karnataka arts and also the writings of the Muslim poet Shishunala Sharif. Few of the tracks on this album were written during Raghus Antargani days. Take for instance the popular ‘Mysore Se Ayi’. This track was tweaked and the tempo was increased to make it to so upbeat that you cant help but clap and dance.
‘Gudugudiya Sedi Nodo‘ is RDPs rendition of a famous Shishunala Sharif poem. In the poem, the poet metaphorically asks everyone to smoke the hookah of life. Unfortunately teenagers commonly use this song to justify their bad smoking habits!
‘Sorutihudu Maniya Maligi’ is another Sharif do-over. This track is more somber compared to Gudugudiya and has a bluesy feel to it. As strong as Raghus voice is, the other musicians in the album must feel shortchanged with the production values of this CD. Raghus voice completely overshadows the subtlety in the instrumentation. Whether this was a foresight on the production team or a creative decision (the official TRDP website has absolutely no mention of the other band members) remains to be seen but it does take away the sheen from what is otherwise a great album.
‘Ambar‘ is a soaring seven minute love song about a man in search for love. It is the perfect soundtrack to the climax of a fairy-tale love story. TRDPs versatility is very evident as they prove they can write the radio-friendly stuff with the song ‘Well I’m In Mumbai, Waiting for a Miracle‘. An acoustic strum gives way to snazzy violins and a catchy chorus as Raghu talks about his times as a struggling musician living in Mumbai. Clocking in at five minutes length, it probably is a tad too long for your average radio station but everyone loves a violin solo! The material on the album does indicate a spiritual side to the band especially the crowd favourite ‘Hey Bhagwan‘. Raghu Dixit relies heavily on his vocal range to carry the album and luckily for him he has the chops to pull it off.
As Raghu has mentioned in interviews, some of the songs on this track have been 12 years in the making. It is thus no surprise that the songs are deeply personal and are about everything from his upbringing to his efforts as an upcoming musician. Throw in some Sharif influenced folk rhythms and great groove and you have a winner. Their live shows are extremely fun as well, barring the unruly crowd that shout themselves hoarse demanding him to sing his movie OSTs. A pity really because when TRDP are in flow, replete with colourful lungis and ghungroos they are a treat to watch. And theyve managed to capture that energy onto this superb CD. Folk on!