Shehzad Bhanji is a guitar virtuoso. He is mostly known for his proficiency on the electric guitar. Though his playing style at times would tend to put him in the category of guitar shredder, Shehzad is not from the pure shredder school, where most of the playing consists of running musical scales at blistering speed. His playing is more melodic and soulful, though he will shred if it fits the context of the song or passage being played. His latest album, “Dreams” highlights his skills and playing style clearly. His mastery and command of the guitar here, is unreal. His tone is celestial, his lighting fast runs are wonderfully melodic and beautiful to hear.
Overall, the best thing about this album is that Shehzad Bhanji music is the happiest, and brightest fusion rock that you’ll hear. Free from much of the angry, bitter, and cantankerous sounds that permeates much of the genre recently, Shehzad’s mind blowing virtuosic music is so exciting, beautiful and uplifting at times, you will jump up and cheer.
The album is his third full-length solo release, following 2016’s debut “Never Say Goodbye” and the follow up release, “Profound Beginnings” in 2017. Free of ego boosting trickery and concentrated on composition and content, this is a great addition to his catalog.
As the album opens up with “Matched Hearts” (ft. T Julliet), the first thing you learn is that unlike a lot of his peers, playing at the edge of his ability doesn’t mean playing the fastest, flashiest leads all the time; in fact, he is truly trying to stretch the limits of the instrument, restoring the goose-bump-inducing effect it has.
And he often succeeds through the application of gorgeous melodies and tonal nuances. The title track “Dreams”, displays more muscle, as Shehzad Bhanji drops a bolder tone and delivers fiery chops. “Papa’s Got A New Car”, ups the intensity even more as Shehzad’s electric six-string drives the funky blues soundscape.
“Uncertain Certainties” finds the Shehzad poised and polished as slabs of complex harmonies show off his impeccable tone and technique. Moving forward, the artist paints some wonderfully varied landscapes on this tour de force of amazing guitar playing and soaring music. Not least the eloquent “Misplacin’ Love” and “A Butterfly’s Wings”, which embraces a powerful melody.
Shehzad can really make a guitar sing. He gets a unique tone and a certain melodic flair, the likeness of which I’ve found in few other guitarists work. And if you’re looking for that forceful emotional sweep, then dig you ears into the resonant “In Your Embrace”.
Shehzad Bhanji is an impeccably skilled player with one of the most heavenly tones of any guitarist of his caliber. His intense focus on finding the perfect guitar tone, is definitely a source of respect, but at the same time he can just cut loose and let fly in a euphoric state of bravado. Something you can easily pick up on the up-tempo, “What The Funk”.
His guitar work becomes a wonderful plethora of well-crafted lines on “Dancing In The Rain”, and the production is placed at the service of Shehzad’s huge tonal palette. Everything is just great in this song, and measures up to what the guitarist aspires to capture on this record.
The closing track, “Wishing Upon A Fading Star” is an awesome, contemplative guitar piece with a lot of interesting riffs, shreds, beautiful chords, and a great balladry vibe. As things stand, this is definitely one of the best guitar albums of the year.
Based in Doha, Qatar, Shehzad Bhanji has amazing tone, technique, blinding speed, and an admirable sense of how to mix it all together. If you want someone who delivers instrumental guitar music with a more compelling voice than words, then you might do well to pick up the album, “Dreams”, as soon as you can.
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