When it comes to Hindi singer-songwriters, Osho Jain has had his own trajectory, soaring in streams thanks to touching but sparse songs like “Khush To Hai Na” in 2019 and “Khud Se”, from his first EP Wahaan Last year. At the center of his first album Saarland is poetry and shaping a soundtrack to his life.
‘Saarland’ translates to “essential” or “conclusion” in this context, according to Jain. “As a kid, if I ever felt like my life needed a soundtrack, I would hold on to the songs I loved. This album has a lot of emotions on that side, especially on the transitions, or the obsessions. He has it all, ”he said on a video call. The nine-track album features five duets (four with the unmissable singer-songwriter Sanchi Mannotra and the ironic closing song “Pyaare” with Pulkit Jain), and two pieces of spoken poetry aided by atmospheric production.
The songs range from a few years of existence to those that have been tested on stage to those written during Jain’s travels through Bir in Himachal Pradesh earlier this year. “As soon as I started recording, I wanted to make an album. It was a very intense decision because it is a lot to take on. It got very tiring until the end. It’s harder because you’re attached to every song, ”Jain says.
The playful “Mazhab Hai,” for example, originated from a demo Jain posted as a story on Instagram about three years ago. He adds: “When I was looking for songs for the album, I thought to myself:”Yeh bhi toh gaana hai. ‘”Jain likens it to a lovemaking soundtrack, but also brings forth an ever relevant message from”Woh Ishq hi mera mazhab hai. He explains, “Love should be true religion. That’s what I believe.
Jain counts this line among his favorites on the album, with “Bohot Hua” presented with a heavy foreboding. He adds, “It’s a phrase used so often but never heard a song about it in this way to extinguish frustrations.” There is an intimate language that the singer-songwriter and producer perfects both in terms of words and sound. “You Aisa Kaise Hai”With Sanchi sums it up perfectly, Jain adding a distinct baritone voice. The old world charms of vinyl and tape sounds also show up on “Kya Dekhu”, while “Likhta Hu” uses a crackle of fire in the background. “Do people ask me how I write? This is a weird question. I write because I can’t tell you how I feel. I always thought of answering this question. It’s in a take, a kind of recitation, ”Jain said of the oral piece.
The minimalist approach of the producer and the poet is reinforced on “Sheher Me”, a disturbing and brutal story of urban life in India. As someone who moved from Indore to Mumbai (and returned to Indore once the pandemic hit), Jain philosopher, propping up layers of voices with tumultuous ambient elements. He could have some grandiose heavy prog translations on stage, depending on the artist.
“Poetry is where I come from; it’s my city, it’s my roots, ”says Jain. Even when he wants to be light, the singer-songwriter takes the shayari-like a course on “Pyaare”, the closing piece on alcohol and the double sided. In all, Saarland covers love, life and longing. There is an air of fantasy in “Pyaare” but also a sense of cinematic storytelling which Jain says lends itself to be produced as a musical, should the opportunity arise.
For now, Jain is back on the live tour after giving virtual concerts throughout the lockdown months. The whole group will leave on tour by the end of the year and until the first quarter of 2022 to promote Saarland. A member of former Mumbai-based folk-fusion group Aankh Micholi, Jain has been on stage and has been focusing on studio work for about a decade now. “My set is very interactive, it’s very straightforward – I recite poetry,” Jain says.
There are also at least five clips to come, starting with “Kya Dekhu” which will be released on November 20th.
Listen to “Saar” below. Stream on more platforms here.