01. Deep Into Your Soul
02. 慢慢 Slowly
03. 呼吸 Breathing
04. 啵啦 Feat. 呂士軒 Kiss It Feat. Trout Fresh
05. 天菜 The Hot One
06. You’ll Never Know
07. 粗神經 Careless
08. 別問很可怕 Don’t Ask
09. 星際牛仔 Space Cowboy
10. 早上PAPAPA Starr Chen feat. J. Sheon
11. 平行宇宙 Multiverse
Review by: CP
Interview source (Everylittled.thenewslen)
J. Sheon is a relatively new name in the mainstream Mandopop music scene. Some may even call him a bit of a late bloomer, as the 31-year-old released his debut album “J.Sheon” earlier this year. Many may not be aware, but before signing with Sony Music Taiwan, he already garnered plenty of attention with his professional sounding covers online. One of his more popular covers is a Chinese rendition of Charlie Puth’s “See you again”, which accumulated over one million views on Youtube and other video-sharing platforms.
Naturally, before the release of the official release of this album, there was already a lot of hype around his music due to his collaborations with other high profile artists in the Taiwan hip-hop scene, which includes Starr Chen, Kenzy, and MJ116 to name a few. As a matter of fact, the early results of this album have been promising, with “Don’t Ask”, “Kiss It”, “You’ll never know” garnering close to nine million views on Youtube; with many touting J.Sheon as one of the few Taiwanese artists with potential to breakthrough into the international market.
It’s fair to say that J.Sheon took a more unorthodox path to mainstream Taiwanese music, as he spent many years honing his craft in America in his twenties. In a sense, the album appears to be a collection of some of his best songs he has been waiting to share with the world all this time. Stated in a recent interview, J.Sheon said he would spend “Ten hours on the internet everyday, tirelessly studying, learning music.”
This is quite evident as many of the songs in this album are very well crafted, in terms of arrangements, melody, lyrics and overall sound. Another thing that caught me by surprise, was J.Sheon’s superb vocal abilities. Being relatively new to his music my first impression of him was, “Wow this boy can sing! He can spit verses, has amazing flow, there is little he can’t do vocally”.
J.Sheon also mentioned in the interview that;
"Since I like Hip Hop very much, I put a lot of Hip Hop elements into the album. I hope my music brings more of a Hip-Hop vibe into R&B music, as I think relatively few people in Taiwan are making this type of music.”
It is definitely hard to argue with that, as we hear a lot of Hip-hop and R&B influence in the music of this album. People who listen to American Pop music or K-pop R&B will instantly gravitate to the tunes in this album. In fact, a lot of J.Sheon’s music reminds me of American artists such as The Weeknd, Bruno Mars and even Chris Brown to a certain extent. Meanwhile, in Kpop terms, he gave similar vibes as artists like Dean, Jay Park and Crush.
Overall, this self-titled album was a pleasant surprise that stood out to me amongst many of new albums introduced to the C-Pop market this year. In a manner, it is refreshing to see that he didn’t attempt to assimilate to the common love-ballads theme employed by many singer/songwriters in the Chinese market. As his album exudes more of an R&B and hip-hop vibe which is not too saturated in the Chinese music market just yet. At the same time, he is able to blend his amazing storytelling abilities into such intricately crafted songs.Through this album we get to experience a full repertoire of J.Sheon’s talents as a singer/songwriter.
One of the songs that immediately caught my attention was “You’ll Never Know”. It is a soothing R&B track mixed with hip-hop elements. I was taken away by J.Sheon’s exceptional flow and rhythm in this track.The way he weaved through the melody was just so smooth and on point.
The song addresses relationships and the issues of boundaries through fairly dark lyrics, which felt honest and relatable. I thoroughly enjoyed the overall structure of the song and thought that lyrics, beat, and vocal emotions all meshed very well together, making it one of the most well put-together songs in the entire album.
“ Don’t ask (別問很可怕)” is another song that instantly caught my ear on my first listen. In comparison to “You’ll Never Know”, this is a completely different ballgame. It’s a simple jazz-ballad track with a tinge of a blues vibe, which I thought did a great job of showcasing J.Sheon’s vocal abilities as a strong soulful singer.
Even though the track has very little instrument accompaniments, the soothing jazz feel, honest lyrics and flawless execution seemed enough to make it an excellent song. I was particularly impressed with how J.Sheon was able to smoothly maneuver through the melody while maintaining great vocal control given the dynamic nature of the song. Furthermore, his firm annotations with every lyric; giving every note the justice it deserves was also something I was very impressed by.
In “Don’t ask” we are able to recognize the quality and timbre of J.Sheon’s vocals. Especially at the beginning of the chorus, where he erupts with the word “唉” (Uh). At that moment, we can hear him put his melismatic techniques to good use; as he combines that with his unique ability to sing at a higher pitch. I thought he was rather effective in drawing the attention of the audience, intriguing them to be more emotionally invested towards the message being delivered in the chorus of the song.
Another standout track for me was “粗神經 Careless”. On the whole, this song fits the mold of more traditional C-Pop ballads you hear in drama OSTs. Nonetheless, I think it is a beautiful song and a nice addition to the album. Through “Careless” J.Sheon shows the versatility of his vocals by perfectly executing a song outside of the R&B genre.
Aside from those three songs, the majority of the tracks in this album fall into the categories of R&B and Hip-hop. Fundamentally speaking, the songs can be further segregated into slower and more upbeat songs.
For those looking for something slower to chill out with on a lazy day, Kiss It 啵啦 and The Hot One 天菜 is worth a listen. Meanwhile, more upbeat tracks to get hyped up includes 呼吸 Breathing, 星際牛仔 Space Cowboy, 早上PAPAPA, 平行宇宙 Multiverse. In his faster songs, I found it very easy to fall in love with J.Sheon’s relentless energy. With energy being one of those elements that can rarely be taught, it's clear that it comes naturally to him. J.Sheon has the ability to exert his irresistible energy and charisma in his songs, prompting his listeners to engage more deeply with his music.
If I were to describe “J.Sheon” in a few words, I would say that the album is “Straight Fire”! On the whole, the album caters most to those with an appetite for contemporary American R&B and Hip/hop music.
Although, the sounds in this album aren’t exactly original as they are already quite prominent in Western pop and K-Pop R&B music, I still see the potential for this album to pique the interest of more Chinese music listeners towards R&B and Hip-hop music.
From a global perspective, his sounds might be in tight competition especially in the Western and K-Pop R&B/Hip-hop world. Therefore, if he truly wants to make his mark in the global music community, as many Taiwanese netizens are hoping for, J.Sheon will likely have to further fine-tune his music and create a more instantly recognizable sound that distinguishes himself from the pack, the way predecessors such as Wang Leehom, Khalil Fong, and David Tao have done in the past.
Finally, “J.Sheon” has also changed my conceptions of possibilities for today’s Chinese music market. As people are now more exposed to different types of music, an album like this can play a role in encouraging more people to be receptive to genres outside of their comfort zone. All things considered, J.Sheon’s story is rather inspiring in how he is one of the handfuls of artists that is able to forge his own path into the mainstream music in his thirties. Which I think gives people around the world extra encouragement, reminding them that it’s never too late to go out and pursue your dreams!
Rating : 4.5/5