Music Video Archive
1.From the Moment I Wake Until I Fall Asleep從醒著到願意睡著
2.Judge Me Not 我不要再比了
3.Indulge Myself 我寵愛
4.Love Is a Crime 明知故犯
5.Cross the Ocean for You 飄洋過海來看你
6.Love Is the Way 愛的方向
7.When the World Is Silent 當世界安靜
After a seven-year-wait, singer Rose Liu has finally released her debut album ‘Judge Me Not’. Composed of seven tracks, the album seemed a promising one, given Rose’s critically acclaimed vocal abilities, having placed highly in Taiwan’s One Million Stars singing competition and in Chinese reality singing show The Voice of China. Furthermore, given that the album featured songs written by the likes of honest songwriters Eve Ai and Kenji Wu, I was expecting an album that was heartfelt as it was beautiful. Nothing complicated, but nevertheless something which tugged at the heartstrings and showed off Rose’s beautiful, sweet-yet-husky pipes. However to my slight disappointment, the album was a little hit-and-miss for my liking.
Starting off solid with “From The Moment I Wake Until I Fall Asleep”, the song which was composed for her by Eve Ai encompassed Ai’s signature scent of deep sentimentality that reprises most of her works. A hauntingly nostalgic melody and lyrics which would melt even the coldest heart, Rose’s vocals treaded lightly across each note, folding each into her warm, heart-rending yet sincere voice. With an simple arrangement that comprised merely of a piano, the song was nevertheless able to clearly allow listeners to immerse themselves in the heady, serious atmosphere that is reminiscent of sleepless nights. Although on the surface the lyrics are about love, the imagery and scenario the song was based upon was unique and executed with aplomb. Despite her vocal proficiencies, Rose hit the nail on its head with her performance, embedding meaning in simplicity. Exactly what I would have expected from the skilled performer.
Her second track, “Judge Me Not”, written for her by Kenji Wu followed in a relatively similar vein as the previous track, but was more straightforward in its delivery and less complex in the message it was trying to deliver. With the makings of a ballad, Rose delivered the song perfectly once again, injecting her feelings of spiritual exhaustion from competing in various singing competitions into the track. However, its rather face-value message and solid but rather generic arrangement left me wanting more, craving that same transport to a timeless state feeling the previous track had given me. I will say however, it was a ballad with a great hook that made it relatively memorable.
Eve Ai's latest album "Talk about Eve" is exactly what its title proposes it to be. Like an intimate conversation between friends, Ai broaches a number of topics that span the themes of Love, Life and Escapism, like short anecdotes which are wispily threaded together and bound by Eve's intimate and unique vocals. Eve professed that prior to the creation of this album, she harboured a rather negative and pessimistic outlook on life before realising that love is the answer to all ill intentions and hatred. Shedding the thorny outer layer which she had previously worn in her social critique that composed her previous albums, this time Eve's latest album is a reflection of a freer, happier yet still strongly independent version of herself.
On the first track "Say", Eve collaborated with singer-songwriter Eric Chou who wrote the melody for her. Although the song was originally intended as a ballad, producer George Chen instead arranged it with strong EDM influences, injecting it with a mysterious aura of headiness and lust. The piece was an interesting concoction as the meatiness of Chou's balladic melody interacted with the EDM sound and paired off well with Eve's sensual, throaty vocals. The lyrics, which separately hint at a dedicated love between two people, instead to me react with the throbbing arrangement to give off a 'caught in the moment', transient meaning.
Another highlight of the album was one of my favourite tracks, "The Sum of Us". Eve professed that within this song, she tried to tell the story of a girl trying to look at things from the perspective of a boy she liked, logically trying to work out how he was feeling, cutting herself out from the picture. However, Ai's moral of the story was that love is not a puzzle or mathematical equation to be worked out (The 'sum' of us, get it?) which she eloquently put through in her lyrics. The absolutely beautiful acoustic guitar part was all that accompanied Eve's voice within this song, but yet filled the atmosphere with such depth, leaving the air heavy with regret and thoughts of logical explanations for lost love. The guitar and Eve's voice supported each other perfectly, picking up slack where the other left off, making for a reflective and organic piece.
The third track “Bad Check” is another high point of this album for its complete and engaging thematic experience. Borrowing inspiration from Quentin Tarantino’s film “From Dusk Til Dawn”, the song simply constructs a wild wild west atmosphere from nothing more than a guitar, tambourine and a little bit of whistling. This song was written during a period where Eve was facing a complex mix of emotions, and felt that nothing was going right for her. The somewhat pessimistic lyrics reflect this: “The world is changing Yet people turn bad”. Eve’s loose and emotive vocals and the passivity of the guitar’s lazy country-style twangs further build up this feeling of lost hope. However, whether ironically or not, Eve sings in the bridge of love being everywhere in our hearts, in the deep, in the palm of our hands as even just a small sliver of hope.
This was closely followed by another stunner, “Escape Plan” which made up the main song which espoused the sub-theme of the album, that of escapism. Starting with the increasingly loud buzz of white noise which is rapidly joined by the taut, urgent pluckings of the guitar, Eve’s voice comes on just like a security announcement over the loudspeaker, almost as if some kind of impending danger is coming. Eve’s high-voltage vocals which veer almost precariously on hysterics in the choruses “Find an escape plan/I’ll take you away” further drill in this sense of urgency and rush of adrenaline one feels while listening to the song. Skilfully placed is also a short period of downtime in the bridge where the lyrics and the chorus match perfectly, creating a sense of security and recharge before launching re-energised back into the chorus again.
The eighth track “Then You Come Along” is one that I know means a lot to Eve, so I wanted to break it down a little for you guys too. Although just simply done with piano and strings, producer Chen is skilled in using these traditional balladic elements in ways that are unexpected, and this song is no exception. The lyrics of the song detail Eve’s experiences of being lonely and caught in the dark before being pulled out by love. This is reflected in the large jumps of octaves in the piano which create a sense of uplift for the mostly sombre melody. However, this song is more complex in emotion than just a happy ever after love song, with the lyrics hinting at some conflict in finding love and ones’ self identity. “It’s hard to forgive/It’s just hard to stand/Falling for someone like that” signifies the internal struggle of perhaps compromising ones’ values for love. Eve’s vocals are soft and reflective in this song; rich with emotion that renders the imperfections of the song its strengths instead.
The last song I’d like to mention specifically is Ai’s collaboration with longtime friend and singer-songwriter-producer Evan Yo called “Lean On”. While Eve has explored the theme of escape in all its different aspects; from ‘Why’ one needs to escape (Bad Check), to ‘How’ one will escape ‘Escape plan’, I instead like to skip straight to ‘What’ happens after the escape which is essentially what this song is. Starting off with a beachy, seaside sound just on an acoustic guitar and Eve singing lightly, the first round of the song establishes an easygoing feel which is built on by layering in underlying groovy bass and electronic beats to give it that much-needed pop of energy that every adventure has. Once all the parts are added in, they constitute what I like to call ‘electric happiness’. With a really spontaneous feel in the melody, the sunny song is kept in throughout the whole song with the electronic elements driving it forward and giving it that much needed edge.
Overall, loving the album! But there are two points which I’d like to specifically commend Eve and her creative team on. Firstly; the way they were able to use such simplicity to put together an album with so much depth is truly a feat in itself. Especially with a textured voice like Eve’s getting the arrangement and everything whittled down to just the core elements is important. And producer George managed to do it while still skilfully creating all kinds of different emotions and sounds too! Secondly, I love how each of the songs are glistening anecdotes that each stand alone to tell a story too. In fact, I feel like the entire album is more like a collection of stories rather than one story together. Eve has a magical storytelling ability which allows one to understand what she’s saying simply, while also creating much depth if one bothers to look closely enough. One critique I have for the album however, is that there isn’t one overarching message that all of the songs adhere to. I found it hard to connect the dots between the songs, or see how they led into one another to tell a bigger story. Nevertheless, this album is chock full of Eve’s one of a kind gypsy-like energy which is unmistakable and irreplaceable. Well done!