Often regarded as the “Pride of Taiwan”, A-mei debuted in 1996 and pretty much achieved overnight success. Her powerful voice tied in with her charismatic performances and classic songs allowed her to gain instant popularity, which she has been able to retain the last 20 years. Sisters is her debut album.
Released: December 13, 1996
1. You Didn’t Want Anything (原來你什麼都不要)
2. Sister (姊妹)
3. Released (解脫)
4. Impulse (衝動)
5. Sea-foam Blue Tears (水藍色眼淚)
6. Cut Love (剪愛)
7. Betrayal (背叛)
8. Love Until You Can’t Receive (愛到不能收)
9. Seriously (認真)
10. I’m a Dreamer on Air (空中的夢想家)
Probably the biggest hit from the album and the song that has remained a classic since its release, You Didn’t Want Anything is a gorgeous piano ballad with some slight gospel elements to it. I think the most interesting thing about this song is that it feels slightly different from your usual Mandopop ballad of today. Utilizing A-mei’s powerful voice, the song just builds and builds and each section adds a little bit more instrumental backing before it finally explodes in the end and really allows A-mei to belt it out. Her voice sounds great here and she easily channels the emotion that the song needs. It’s just such a powerful track and it’s no surprise it is still popular today. The title track is a nice change from the more dramatic opener. Here, with something a little more upbeat and lighthearted. To be honest, Sisters definitely comes off a bit more outdated than the last, but what I love most about this one is that it features a lot more Taiwanese Aborigine elements and really helps to give a sense of A-mei’s background. The bits of chanting surprisingly work with the more upbeat sound of the music and its heavy percussion. It’s a touching song in a way. Of course, we swing right back into the ballad one with Released. More laidback than the last two songs, this one focuses a lot more on the guitar and is definitely more melancholic. I quite like it, but the song is definitely not as exciting and as it goes on, it can get a bit dull. I do like that A-mei tries to spices things up with some riffs and runs around the end of the song. It’s a decent song. Impulse finally gets us up and dancing as it gives us a funky dance-pop tune where A-mei tries to edge it up a bit. I quite like the verses as they are definitely something sexy and one of the first glimpses of these kinds of songs from her. The chorus is still catchy and her voice is great, but I do find the chorus can get a bit grating at times as there is a part where it pushes her to sing a note in her head voice and it comes off like a squeak. The electric guitar refrain for the instrumental break really helps bring things back up though. It’s a cool song. My favourite song from the album is actually Sea-foam Blue Tears. Not released as a promotional song, this is definitely one of the strongest songs from A-mei. A heavy focus on the acoustic guitar, I love how edgy it sounds. That and the emotion that she sings really echoes through here. She is able to inject the melody the needed amount of edge and emotion. The chorus is a bit different as it gives something with a touch of funk in its music, but it’s a nice touch that helps keep the energy up with the song. This is just a stellar tune. Cut Love is one of the more traditional ballads on the album. It is very reminiscent of the types of songs that came out in the 90’s in Taiwan. The focus is largely on the piano, especially in the quieter verses, which are meant to show a contrast to the more hook heavy chorus. The chorus here does a great job of highlighting how strong A-mei vocals are, especially when the song starts to have the heavier percussion and electric guitar for the last one. I don’t think it’s the strongest ballad, but it is quite nice. Betrayal is a really cool song with its stronger R&B elements. I think it has similar qualities to that of Impulse, but instead we are given something a bit more laidback and I’m happy with that. However, the odd thing with this song is the odd transition from the prechorus to the chorus. It’s quite unpredictable as things comes off a little poppier in the chorus. However, I really enjoy the melody and it reminds me a bit of early 00’s J-Pop. Definitely one of the more fun songs despite being a bit outdated. Love Until You Can’t Receive It is a really interesting ballad. It’s much more toned down and slower than the other songs. It starts off really ethereal and while the chorus does continue that with the music, I do find it all comes off a bit more emotional in this section. Her voice just really works so well here and I like how dramatic the whole song comes off. Seriously also continues the more dramatic ballad sound of the last song. However, I don’t think one comes off as emotional as that one did. It’s much more your standard Mandopop sound of the 90’s. The chorus is really explosive and I quite like it, but I do find the song to be one of the weaker songs on the album (it’s still good) as the melody doesn’t come across as memorable as other songs and it drags on a bit as it progresses. It really does show off A-Mei voice really well though. Ending the album is I’m a Dreamer on Air. This was actually released before the album and was a promotional song for the UFO Radio Station in Taiwan, which is why there is a weird line where she says UFO. With that said, the song itself is really good. It’s a bit more dreamy than the rest of the album, but it still fits in well. I think the highlight is that the melody is quite solid and comes off really sincere. There is a certain charm to it and A-mei’s vocals just carry the song really well. Great!
Overall: This is one of my favourite C-Pop albums and one of the strongest I’ve heard. While there are definitely some stronger tracks, all the songs could potentially be singles. I quite like how there is a lot of variety and A-mei is able to bounce back and forth from ballads to midtempo pieces to something a bit more upbeat. Her voice really helps to bring the album up a notch and she shows her versatility.