If I close my eyes while listening to the latest Sajid & Zeeshan offering, Nothing Compares, I can literally picture exactly how they would perform this electro-acoustic pop song live. It’s been many years since one has attended a Sajid & Zeeshan concert, probably well over a decade, but their performance would draw you in visually as much as it did through their music.

Sajid would flit between doing the vocals, playing both the electric and acoustic guitars and the harmonica while Zeeshan would deftly work the electrical components on his laptop, play the keyboard as well as provide the backing vocals to the song. How quickly and seamlessly they moved between instruments and singing and how perfectly attuned they were to their performance was mesmerising, to say the least.

Newly produced, but with such a strong Sajid & Zeeshan signature — merging the electronic and acoustic components in such a way that the song can be performed exactly as you are hearing it — Nothing Compares deals a heavy dose of nostalgia. For those familiar with the band’s previous music, that is.

The lyrics, composition, lead vocals and guitars section is by Sajid Ghafoor and the keyboard, electronic component, backing vocals and production is by Zeeshan Parwez. Nothing Compares begins with a guitar riff that’s repeated throughout the song. The electronic drums ease into the song as Sajid starts singing the opening lyrics:

Sajid & Zeeshan’s latest, Nothing Compares, is still the band’s signature sound from a decade ago

“A cast out/ You’re feeling/ But still breathing/ Heart thumping/ A wave of peace/ Is what your inside seeks/ Needs healing/ Keep breathing”

Sajid Ghafoor goes even higher after he sings the pre-chorus and moves on to the main chorus of the song:

“Things only change when you do/ It will always feel the same/ If you’re not true to/ Who you are/ That shining inner star/ The one you are/ Nothing compares”

The chorus also features backing vocals, making the overall vocals sounding richer and larger-than-life. How Zeeshan Parwez is able to keep up and go that high is a conversation reserved for later.

It’s important to find hope in moments of despair and the only person that’s going to rescue you is yourself. That’s the message one gets in the lyrics that pop up in the latter half of the song:

“You only wanna wake up/ When there is light/ But this darkness won’t break up/ Unless you light that fire/ It takes a bit of shake up/ To feel this mortal life”

This is followed by a snazzy electric guitar solo, where Sajid shows off his skills honed over decades of practice, his fingers flying deftly over the fretboard to produce those clear, crisp notes.

I wish Zeeshan Parwez would produce more music. His collaboration with Sajid shows how it’s entirely possible to create an electro-acoustic pop sound without an over-reliance on creating the entire sound in a computer software. A lot of that also has to do with Sajid’s incredible skills with musical instruments as well as his compositions.

While Nothing Compares is nearly perfect in itself, it’s a very typical sound for the band. It would be interesting to see if a collaboration with other artists who work in the same-ish genre, would help them break out of their own little ‘signature’ sound.

Published in Dawn, ICON, July 11th, 2021

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