Pakistan’s Haider Riaz delivers a beautiful and haunting anthem in “You Can’t Please Them All”. It is a sweeping and emotional piece, simultaneously hopeful and despairing. The song’s title could be taken as advice or warning. Ultimately it is reassuring. Do you feel overwhelmed trying to meet the unrealistic expectations of others? So does Haider. And so do the rest of us.
The track opens with only a reverberating clean electric guitar and Haider’s striking vocal. There is a lot to love about this song, but that voice is the star. His range and execution are impeccable. However, it is the emotion simmering beneath each word that floors you. It would be easy and accurate to liken his voice to that of Thom Yorke from Radiohead, but that comparison isn’t sufficient. Haider’s voice is sincere. There is no pretense here. He is not trying to sound like anyone.
The understated beauty of that first verse eventually explodes into a cinematic chorus of guitars, keys, and layered vocals. It is big, and moving. The singer warns us not to lose our minds seeking validation and, “fighting our battles alone.” After a slight return to sparse arrangement in the second verse, the song once again blows up into a huge chorus. The song ends on an epic guitar solo that is one part Hendrix and one part Slash.
It is easy to become blasé about our interconnected digital world. I know I do. However, once in awhile it strikes me just how amazing it all is, and what it can mean. Sitting in my studio in Upstate NY, being moved emotionally by the song of an independent musician on the other side of the world in Pakistan, was one of those times.
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Here is what Haider says about “You Can’t Please Them All”…
You Can’t Please Them All, is a hopeful rock anthem, dealing with the excessive anxiety caused by the ever-present need for validation. It contrasts a wistful, guitar and solo voice based verse, with a giant crowd-sung chorus.