Review Summary: A charming debut album by a cousin duo who take inspiration from Eastern folk music, blues, and pop; meshing them together to provide us a pleasant low key listening experience.
Zeb and Haniya received significant mainstream traction thanks to their appearances on several seasons of Coke Studio Pakistan beginning in 2009, however the two cousins commenced their musical collaboration a couple of years prior to that, specifically during their undergrad years. This soon led them to compose their only album to date, 2008’s Chup!
Haniya is the primary composer and brains behind the music, as well as a secondary vocalist to boot. The core foundation for all her compositions is the acoustic guitar, and this is evident from the outset. She doesn’t complicate things with her playing, always using simplistic melodies and chord progressions that are augmented by flourishes of clean & lead electric guitars, percussions, drums, and the tastefully implemented horn instruments that guest on the album. Haniya’s musical arrangements are an amalgamation of Eastern folk, pop, blues, and jazz, all presented in a somber package. The final ingredient in the mix is Zeb and her angelic voice. Her soothing melodic vocals are the perfect match to Haniya’s compositions, with the music being tailored for Zeb’s range; at times displaying her zesty & playful side in her intonations, while at other times relaying a subdued & mature performance, all in service to the lyrical content being delivered. Haniya's backing vocals & harmonies are also crucial to the albums' aesthetic. Chup!
emanates an air of sophistication throughout the course of its near 50 minute runtime; from the soulful songwriting, to the covertly groovy & tasteful drum performances, the expressive & bluesy guitarwork, and not to forget the elegant use of the trumpet & goat horns; whether in a supporting or lead context. It all meshes together seamlessly.
While the album does see a variety of genres present, they also seem to somehow limit the album in its mood. There are changes of tempo across Chup!
, but by the end the listener might have not felt the significant peaks & valleys in emotions that one hopes for over the course of an album. Some of the songs also feel a little longer than necessary, with no novel elements really being added by the end of them. This can make the album a slightly laboured listen during the “business end,” but it eventually does peak with penultimate track “Aitebar,” which epitomises the blend of folk, blues, and pop that are the essence of Chup!
as a whole, and has the best guitar solo on the album. The songs that do have some “bite” such as “Rona Chor Diya” provide much needed drive to the album, and more of these elements would have really benefited the album.
Contributing to this album are a host of revered figures in the Pakistani musical industry including; Gumby (Noori, Coke Studio) & Sikander (Coke Studio) on drums, Shallum (Fuzon) & Omran (Mauj, Coke Studio) on guitars, and the venerable Kamran (Coke Studio) on bass. To round off the all-star team Chup!
was produced by renowned guitarist/engineer Mekaal Hasan who respected all the instruments in the mix, and presented a pacified yet lush package that compliments the music on offer. Ultimately Chup!
is a soothing and easy listening experience for those wanting a change of pace from their more intense musical inclinations.
1. Rona Chor Diya
3. Kabhi Na Kabhi
4. Paimona Bitte
Zeb and Haniya’s Spotify page:
Album Playlist on YouTube
1. Rona Chor Diya (translation: Stopped Crying) [4:21]:
2. Aitebar (t: Trust) [6:24]:
3. Kabhi Na Kabhi (t: Sooner or Later) [5:01]:
4. Paimana Bitte (t: Bring Me the Glass) [4:38]:
5. Chup! (t: Hush!) [4:09]: