Gurgaon-based singer and songwriter Kiara Chettri is just 17 years of age but her voice is powerful enough to set a mark. Her recent album features many ballads that evoke feelings of hopelessness, solitude, and the ultimate quest to find one’s self-worth.
These songs on love and life easily make for good sad pop and soft rock tunes. In fact, one can hear a slightly nostalgic self-reflective vibe that was present in the early songs of classic 90s and 2000s artists like Alanis Morissette and The Wallflowers. And while coming to contemporary parallels, the acoustic sound also points towards lyrical similarities with Ed Sheeran who happens to be one of Chettri’s influences.
But with all that being said, Kiara Chettri’s songs are not derivative and she holds her ground with the calming soundscape that 4AM creates. The album opens with the title track, a self-reflective song based on a ‘pick-and-slap’ guitar pattern. Similar guitaring and keys can be heard in the other tracks with a few changing the pace to break the monotony. The fourth song called You’ll See plays out as a good interlude to shift away from the mellowness. It’s an upbeat track brimming with a positive, feel-good vibe to it.
An acoustic version of the same song too brings the focus on her powerhouse vocals towards the end of the album. Another standout track is Home, which echoes the aforementioned nostalgic soft rock sound with ‘You’re my home’ serving as a catchy hook line.
Keeping 10 songs in the album might seem like an unconventional move for a new indie artist like Chettri but the decision makes sense as it allows her to showcase her versatility to the fullest. 4AM even features a Hindi song too, called Kinara Tu (that features some soothing ghatam-style beats). The concluding song Hopefully Not Too Far seems like an amalgamation to the various themes that characterised the other songs. It starts off with some gentle keys, transitioning to a rousing chorus.
These days, when it comes to new releases in the independent scene, there are many experimenting with electronic edited R&B vocals. The other category with such a generalisation will be the acoustic artists who muse on romance or heartbreak against a set of guitar or ukulele strumming patterns. On the surface, 4AM’s lyrics might initially make listeners feel that Chhetri belongs to the latter category.
But that’s far from true as the album does show genuine attempts at breaking away from the bittersweet pop cliches that seemed to be oversaturating the genre. 4AM might not be the most unique project of the year but it’s a heartfelt and diverse set of tracks that deserves your attention and bears further testimony to Kiara Chhetri’s potential as a popstar.
Verdict: Calming to the mind and the senses, this album makes for quite a self-contemplating pop rock experience.