When I first heard of Soulmate, I looked them up on Google, found the link to their Web site, and while I was there I listened to some short sound clips that I didn’t like very much. But little did I know at the time that I’d be completely blown away when I listened to their debut album a few years later. Soulmate, a four-piece musical outfit from Shillong, has come a long way since starting off in 2001. Playing an eclectic mixture of blues and rock, their sound is quite unique in the Indian rock music circuit. Their debut album, ‘Shillong’, was released in 2005 on Counter Culture Records. The album artwork is subtle and rather nicely done, and the front cover features a photograph of a house (in Shillong?) with an open wooden window.
The album starts off with “Love You”, an aptly titled song about how a lover misses the one he loves. The song features guitarist Rudy on vocals and is a catchy start to the album. ‘Shillong’ moves on with “The Price”, which sees the vocal duties being taken over by Tipriti. Either of these two songs would make for an ideal “hit single” from the album. The arrangement on both tracks is quite superb, to say nothing of the splendid vocals.
“If You Were My Guitar” is a long track with an improvised jam in the middle that is reminiscent of true blues music of the ’70s. Interesting arrangements on songs such as “I Am”, a song about being yourself and accepting yourself for who you are, and “My Baby” make for an interesting second half of the album. The gems of the album have to be “St. Valentine’s Day Blues” and “Shillong (Sier Lapalang)”. Both instrumental tracks, the former reminds you of the bluegrass and country movement of the ’60s, while the latter is more or less an improvised jam — a solid trip of seven-odd minutes, with guitar solos, keyboard passages, the works.
One thing that bothered me a little bit was that most of the songs on ‘Shillong’ are quite similar. But I’m not really complaining — all in all, this album is definitely worth buying, especially for any one who loves listening to blues music. Kudos to Soulmate, I’m a big fan.