In encapsulating the theme of her latest album <Missing Person, Lala says: “ Actually what we are afraid of is not ‘loss’, but instead ‘emptiness’, so for the rest of our lives, we continue to search.” Perhaps on the surface, what we are afraid of is indeed loss, but loss comes and goes; what stays and remains with us, and continually drives us is the filling of empty spaces in our minds, in our hearts, and in our souls. Lala’s album explores the vicinities of space and time, a careful selection of pieces which mimic our reality, helping each of us to discover what is really means to search and to find in ones’ eternal search; be it in love or life.
The first song in Lala’s album <寻人启事>(Missing Person) is where the entire concept of the album began; Lala was so enchanted by Hush’s melody that she decided she must have for herself. And indeed, she does a wonderful job in it. The melody simple and elegant, all the pieces come together so perfectly in this piece; with Lala’s vocals finely tailored to perfectly express the song’s meaning and a tasteful piano and violin arrangement, its pure melody paralyses all senses in its siren song, urging you to stop and listen to the message that it brings. My favourite line in this song is when Lala sings “我多想找到你 轻碰你的脸 我会张开我双手 抚摸你的背”(Trans: How I wish I could find you and lightly touch your face I will open my arms wide and stroke your back). I feel that these few lines really do capture the essence of Hush’s melody, and also reflect entirely the concept of this album. In this part of the melody it’s as if Lala herself is reaching out her hands to her listeners in this act of comfort, warmth, to sooth, even for a few moments the emptiness and longing that we all feel. For what this song is, is almost a musical representation of longing. I don’t know how they did it, but the best kind of music to me is the kind that reflects real human emotion, that replicates the feelings that you feel on a daily basis, putting it out right in front of you for you to see it as it is. Because that’s how music unites us, and helps us to grow. Like a mirror, it allows us to take ourselves out of the equation and to see ourselves for what we are; in some way or another, a sliver of ourselves. This song continues to amaze me more and more with every listen-no tricks or jazz hands here, in this song simplicity is key and lala and her team have hit the nail squarely on the head. Hands down my favourite song of this year.
With KHALIL FONG 方大同, its always fun to see what new things he's been experimenting with or playing around with, but at the same time, he is one of those artists who has found a definite and very clear signature style on top of which they are able to build their musical direction for each album, no matter what it may be. When I heard JAM HSIAO 蕭敬騰's <Say A Little Something>, I knew it was written by Khalil straightaway. But although nowadays he's been dabbling in a few other genres such as blues, soul and a more electronic sound, when I heard a clip of his song on the radio, before his voice even came on, I knew straightaway who it was. His innovativeness has earned him a place as one of the freshest and most well respected new sounds of the Taiwanese music industry, and if anyone is able to pull the music scene out of the slum that it's in now, Khalil's the one to do it, by bringing with each album a message of peace, and his passion for music.
In this album, he attacks the problems of world peace and disaster which we are certainly facing by the hordes right now in his first two tracks <Dangerous World> and <Peace>, adding elements of funk and hiphop to his repertoire with a little tinge of classical in <Dangerous World> , bringing on all the soul he can muster in <Peace> featuring the velvety-voiced Tia Ray. But even in times of Danger, Khalil knows how to not only make us aware of the danger around us, but also to be comforted by the little beauties of the world around us. He does so in fresh tracks such as <Little Khalil> (his life story is definitely one you should hear), <A special person>, which is one of my favourite songs, and <Love is not coming>, a hip matchup with rapper Miss Ko, showing a undeniable passion for rhythm and creativity in Khalil's music always.
But Danger is around every corner, and Khalil effortlessly makes you scared yet interested enough to listen on in his snappy track <Black White Grey>, which like its name, tells you succinctly that there are blurred lines in this world, and to be careful of what you say and do! The arrangement on this song is as clear cut as checkerboard tiles in an ironic but skilful twist; everything is clean and sliced to precision with zero fuzz in between, yet works together so seamlessly like a well oiled machine. That's Khalil for you always!
Those are some of the highlights of this album for me, but as always, Khalil has found the perfect formula of innovation with his own signature twist, and is sticking to it in ways that amazes fans new and old, but never ceases to please and familiarise. I think Khalil's voice was a little off though throughout the entire album; it sounded a little less powerful than before and so lost a little oomph throughout the album. However, I think Khalil was aware of that (perhaps taking it easy after his surgery?) and chose to stick to a selection of songs that were as easy on his vocals as they were on the ear, throwing in a mishmash of rap tracks and even a use of falsetto to make up for it. Artists who know where their flaws lie and try their best to make up for them are the ones that really make it big and Khalil is definitely one of them.
Overall, an album I truly enjoyed, well done Khalil! Looking forward to the next one!
During my time in Taiwan, I was fortunate enough to be able to see Joanna perform live, and not only is she a stellar live performer, she is also one who exudes her own very unique sense of confidence through her music, be it in the genre she's writing in, or the content of her lyrics. She's expressed that <Midnight Cinema> is the album that she's most happy with, being able to be in total creative control of the whole album has been a battle for her in the past few years, and finally being able to do what she wants really sets up the album for me as a must listen.
Although it may just seem like any ordinary cover album, those who understand the singer will know that it can't be that simple. A collection of songs, both English and Chinese selections exude a sense of old-Hollywood glamour. But according to Joanna (pal Khalil Fong has also figured out the underlying message to her album), there is something else to this album, much more than just the girlish, Audrey Hepburn ideas of glamour and luxury. For me, I feel a sense of craziness and madness being an underlying theme of this album, but I'll get back to you on that after a few more listens.
From the moment i started following news about James and his musical endeavours, I knew that there was something special about this singer. His success story is indeed similar to that of One Million Star winner Anthony Neely, with both singers' being known for their unique and emotive vocals. But unlike Anthony, James from the word go seems to know exactly what he wants and how to get there. His debut album <Stay> is truly a reflection of that, a collection of independent rock-styled covers that are a match made in heaven for his husky vocals. I guess what makes this album stand out from the rest for me was the sureness that I could see in James' musical direction from the start to the finish of the album. Through his music shines the soul of a true rocker, the attitude, the snarl, he's got it all down pat while sending shivers down your spine with the nuances within his heady and deliciously rough vocals.