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“Hallelujah” by Somesh Mathur

Mainstream Indian pop releases have been moving towards the postmodern for the last few years, but rather than throwing the entirety of his aesthetics toward the cerebral, Somesh Mathur is experimenting with retro themes in his new single “Hallelujah.” There’s an atmospheric quality to the harmonies comprising the bedrock of this single, but make no mistake about it – that’s where the cerebral element ends. The poetry, the hesitant beat, and even the delicate stylization of the string parts have an old-guard feel to them that transcends the limitations of an uncertain neo-dance trend in Indian music today, and although he isn’t a complete rebel, Mathur wants to make his sound as distinctive from the competition as possible in “Hallelujah.” 

Aside from the performance itself, this mix is as tight as they come. There’s an awesome clarity to the instrumental components that makes it impossible to confuse one part for another, with the subtle bassline in the background of the chorus contributing as much to the hook as the lead vocal would. Mathur doesn’t want to use a lot of bells and whistles as a catalyst for catharsis in “Hallelujah,” but instead the natural talents he has for singing, arranging, and connecting with the instruments that form the backing for his every word. That’s admirable, especially when taking into account how few of his peers have had the interest – or the ability – to put themselves out there as much as he is here. 

The poetic sentiments of the lyrics in this single are made a lot more powerful by the man conveying them to us in “Hallelujah,” and I would even say that it wouldn’t be the same song that it is with a different vocalist instead of Somesh Mathur. I’d never heard anything he’d sung before listening to this single, but he has a tonal presence here that makes it impossible to accuse him of trying to stand in someone else’s shadow. He’s not trying to be anyone else but himself and his natural sound is something that I can see a lot of fans of contemporary pop both in India and abroad getting quite turned on by in 2023. 

A crossover from Indian pop that embodies a sliver of international rambunctiousness for good measure, “Hallelujah” makes a big statement on behalf of its performer – and makes me hungry to hear more of his harmonies in the future. Somesh Mathur shows off a masterful charm in this single, and because it’s the first that I have had the pleasure of listening to out of his scene in the last month, the standard has been set pretty high for his latest release. Something in my gut tells me he has it in him to outdo what he’s presented in “Hallelujah,” and those who think I’m jumping the gun with Mathur just haven’t listened to the climax of this single with the right set of speakers. This is a deep piece of music for sure, and it deserves to get a lot of hype this June. 

Mindy McCall



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