Jaimin Rajani’s self-assured debut album of 14 originals, floating around in the streaming universe since last year, is now all set to find itself a stable home. So, in quiet defiance of current trends, Cutting Loose is nesting itself on a compact disc – remember those rotund, shiny things, with a hole in the centre, that came in square cases we used to stack affectionately in our cabinets? Yes, a CD.
Doing the honours is Free School Street Records, a Kolkata music label that is courageous enough to want to spread the word, and song, about good music the old fashioned way. In case of Cutting Loose, uniformly lauded by listeners and critics for its straight-from-the-heart lyrics encased in a folk-rock sonic palette, it is offering a new audio master of the album to elevate the listening experience.
Jaimin is as excited as Aveek Chatterjee and Rajiv Pandey, the two helmsmen that run the label of love dedicated to unearthing forgotten gems in rock, folk, blues and jazz, especially those coming from home-grown talent.
“I feel very special for being included in Free School Street Records' (currently) small catalogue,” gushes Jaimin who hasn’t yet listened to the CD in full. “I'm quite excited to give the CD a listen. The anticipation stems from the remarkable improvement in the new audio master by Rajiv. Even from the brief snippet I've heard of the enhanced version, the difference is striking,” adds the singer-songwriter.
This project also marks the coming together of a Kolkata collective _ Jaimin calls himself a Bombay-born Calcutta thoroughbred. “What amplifies my enthusiasm is the fact that this venture hails from our city and their discerning taste in the music they choose to release,” he explains.
Chatterjee says they were drawn to Cutting Loose by the initial response from music fans and, therefore, decided to add it to their catalogue. Hence, Free School Street Records went out of its way to see what more could be done to improve the package and listening experience. “That resulted in me working on a new audio master that I believe improves the sonic quality,” says Pandey. “We also added more content to the artwork.”
Cutting Loose has received widespread critical acclaim and was designated “Best Rock Album of the Year” at the Clef Music Awards 2022. It also boasts testimonials, as the sleeve notes profess, by the likes of Pete Townshend (The Who), Scarlet Rivera (singer and violin player, most memorably featured in the Bob Dylan album Desire) and Rob Stoner (bassist, former band leader for Bob Dylan).
Jaimin had spoken of letting his “subconscious mind erupt” while writing songs in an interview to The TelegraphOnline, which went on to describe the album thus: “The guitar, acoustic and electric, and piano form the backbone with delightful sonic surprises that keep springing out of each of the 14 tracks. Distinctive melody patterns are held together tightly by sprightly lyrics that play on myriad emotions… Even though Jaimin is delving into heartache, disappointment and departure, he is, by the time you reach mid-way into his saga, seemingly having fun too. At times, smiling, if not laughing, at his own predicament and the crazy tangents that life take…”.
Cutting Lose is Free School Street Records’ fifth offering after Train To Calcutta (Susmit Bose), Arinjoy Trio (Arinjoy Sarkar, Aakash Ganguly and Sounak Roy), Evolve (Indus Creed) and The Orange Album (Wanka). While the earlier releases were vinyl-only, Jaimin’s is on CD for now. Clearly, this record label wants to chart its own course on its own terms. “One of our other goals is to not be like everyone else where we are cranking out release after release – our emphasis has always been about quality not quantity,” says Pandey.
Free School Records wants to release music it loves, in a manner that makes it, essentially, a “conversation piece” curated with the best possible audio mastering and artwork. More music is in the pipeline, its founders promise.