There’s really something special about Erika’s voice. When I first heard of her through her first single “An Angel’s Secret” I was mesmerised. Although upon A wonderfully talented vocalist, Erika is as versatile as her voice is unique. With piercing, explosive high notes, a charmingly husky baritone and a sweet, breathy falsetto, it seems that there’s nothing this girl can’t do, rendering her an incredible asset to a music scene swamped by celebrities trained in the art of ‘fake versatility’. But her debut album “I am Erika” instead sends mixed signals and exploits this versatility.
I don’t think its any fault of hers specifically; but in promoting her as a ‘water-type girl’ when 70% of the album is upbeat R&B or pop-rock tracks just made me even more confused. When she released her first single “An Angel’s Secret” featuring Xiao Yu, I could certainly see the connection between this song and the ‘water’ theme of her album. Hoping to hear more of this mellow, clarifying R&B sound, I purchased her album but was surprised to hear that there was not one other song which drew connotations with this ‘water’ theme. Instead, most of them were what would be best described as ‘filler tracks’; songs which seemed to be meant for no one type of artist, but just generic pop tracks. I am saying this not in the sense that it is badly produced or badly arranged, but in the sense that I feel these songs are unmemorable, with very boring themes and with some not suited for her voice at all. Inf act upon closer analysis turns out most of these songs are cover tracks of English songs which makes more sense. Nevertheless, cover songs or not there was a real issue in my opinion with song choice that rendered this album overall quite disappointing to me.
If I were to compare Murmurshow’s music to a type of food, I believe that it is very much like Chicken soup for the soul. Nourishing, warm and simple, their reassuring brand of indie pop is easy on the ears and full of heart. Their latest album “Proudly Loving” is based on the idea that one should first learn to love themselves before being able to love others, a message that weaves itself naturally throughout their eclectic jumble of good-natured tunes. They tell this concept in simply worded yet meaningful language from all kinds of different perspectives; telling listeners to just be themselves in ‘Differences’, telling the story of a person who has done his lover wrong as a result of not understanding how to love himself in ‘Gone, and even songs about embracing those lazy stay-at-home days where you give yourself a chance to take a break in ‘Hate Rainy Days’ and ‘Like Staying at Home’.
Lead singer Li De Hui’s voice is especially interesting to unpack; although it does not contain the melisma of normal western-styled powerhouses, there is something very explosive about her sound. One thing’s for sure-that girl’s got a hell of a voice on her! Moving effortlessly between soft-spoken tracks such as the acoustic ‘Differences’ and soft balladic ‘No Sugar’ to more amped up tracks like the heart-wrenching ‘Gone’ and the funky ‘Valerian Root’, her lilting sound fascinates me with its depth and emotiveness with each song. Guitarist Shen Zhi Fang also was able to very skilfully incorporate guitar into most of the songs onto the album in ways that were unexpected, but fitted really well. I think his arrangements are part of what shapes Murmurshow’s laidback yet juicy works, which is something really special about them I do appreciate.
Favourites on this album include the simple ‘Differences’ which summed up perfectly the theme of the album in a sunny and cheerful way using just an acoustic guitar and simple percussion. What I really like about their music is that there aren’t that many surprises which is a good thing sometimes. From the beginning of the track, what you hear is what you get. No big, extravagant layering of instruments that cause frenzied mood changes just for the hell of it. All the way through, this song just became ore and more uplifting with its message of individuality and of deserving to be loved. A comforting song that will bring sunshine into your day when you need it the most.