[Album] A-mei Zhang – Bad Boy

Bad Boy is the second album released by A-mei Zhang. The album proved to be an even bigger success than her debut and many of the songs on the album are still regarded as classics. It was so popular that it eventually became the best selling album in Taiwan, with over 1.3 million copies sold.

badboy
Released: October 7, 1997
1. Can’t Cry (哭不出來)
2. Whenever I Think About You (一想到你呀)
3. Lonely Tequila (孤單 Tequila)
4. Dancing Alone (一個人跳舞)
5. Listen to the Sea (聽海)
6. Bad Boy
7. Sweet Words (甜言蜜語)
8. Lover? Enemy? (情人?敵人?)
9. Love, Not Too Early or Too Late is Better (愛,不太早不太晚,剛好)
10. Loved You (愛過你)

It’s a bit of a surprise that the album starts with Can’t Cry, which is a ballad. Although she did it with her debut, this one is a bit different because it is more of a slow builder. The song starts off pretty gentle with just A-mei, a piano and light synths. The chorus is definitely the highlight as the melody does a great job showing off A-mei’s soaring vocals. The song only really starts picking up after the second bridge where A-mei hits a huge note before slamming into the final chorus. It’s exhilarating and a strong start. Whenever I Think About You is my favourite song on the album. It’s the first upbeat song but it has this carefree nature about it that I absolutely love. Not to mention that it is really catchy. The music itself is a bit oldschool, but I think it still holds up rather well because the stomping beat and funky guitar really give it some great energy. With that said, I love how fun the song sounds and it is the kind that is easy to sing along to. Lonely Tequila is a bit off an odd song as it has a jazzier aspect to it. The synths and saxophone here make the song sound totally 90’s, but it still does a great job of bringing a more mature style. The beginning is nice, but it isn’t as interesting as the second half the song where the song becomes more dramatic and intense and fits the lyrics that delve into needing someone. This song fits perfectly with the raspy quality of A-mei’s vocals and it is another stellar tune. Dancing Alone continues the jazzier sound, but brings something a little more upbeat. I love the funky bass and it sounds great in this sexier number. I think one thing I love about the songs on this album is that A-mei’s voice is just so versatile and her vocal abilities allow her to really take over a song even if she doesn’t belt it out. This song isn’t as strong as the other songs, but I still love it because it has a great 80’s vibe going on and it is still really catchy. Listen to the Sea is probably the album’s biggest song and one of A-mei’s signature hits. This one is a bit like the first song on the album because it starts off pretty gentle. The chorus is once again the highlight with its soaring notes and does a great job of matching with the heartbreaking lyrics. A-mei’s voice sounds especially great here as well. The title track, Bad Boy, is a fun latin-inspired upbeat pop tune. I wasn’t a big fan of this song when I first heard it, but it has grown on me tremendously. The guitar tied with the pounding beat and A-mei’s raspy vocals is a really great fusion. The hooks are a bit repetitive, but it still works out nicely and it is easy to get stuck in your head. With that said, I actually love the verses more. Solid tune. At first, I found Sweet Words to be boring because it focuses a lot on just A-mei and an acoustic guitar. However, the song is really beautiful and A-mei’s voice when that opening chorus line comes in is absolutely stunning. I also love the music as the percussion gives subtle, but much needed boosts of power while piano and guitar seem to play off of each other. It’s not one of her usual power ballads, but it still works wonderfully. Speaking of power ballads, Lover? Enemy? comes storming in. This is a dark and dramatic ballad, but it shows A-mei’s versatility and how she can handle all different kinds of songs. With that said, whereas the last song is more timeless in its sound, I find the music to this one totally stuck in the 90’s with its synths. With that said, I love it and it is a favourite of mine. A-mei’s voice is at her most powerful and the music does a great job of really helping her voice soar. Love, Not Too Early or Too Late is Better is my least favourite song on the album. It is an upbeat song with a pop melody, while the music is a weird mix of pop and rock. It’s not a bad song per se, just weaker than everything else on here. It is relatively catchy, but it just doesn’t have the same attitude or hooks the other upbeat songs have nor does it have the emotional power. With that said, there are some really great parts to it like the bridge. A good song, but just outdone. Finishing the album on a powerful note, I Loved You is probably the most “Mandopop” sounding ballad on here as the melody reminds me of other songs that were released around this time. It has a really powerful accompaniment and I do like the energy that it brings, but I wish the melody stood out a bit more. With so many strong ballads on this album, it sort of sits in the shadow. It has its charms though.

Overall: This is one of my favourite albums, if not my favourite. I love almost every song and the first eight songs are all strong while still giving a variety of sounds. While some of the songs are a bit outdated in the music, I find the melodies to be timeless and A-mei’s voice really helps keep the songs really engaging. Back in the day, I only liked a few songs from this album and would have ranked her first album higher, but this is definitely an album that is both cohesive, but full of individual hits.

A+

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[Mini-Album] A-Lin – Love, May I Please Ask How to Go?

Love, May I Please Ask How to Go? is the first mini-album released by A-Lin.

lovemayiplease
Released: June 8, 2007
1. Love, May I Please Ask How to Go? (愛 請問怎麼走)
2. Absurd (荒唐)
3. Changing Seasons (換季)

The mini opens with the title track, Love, May I Please Ask How to Go?, which is of course I ballad. A-Lin does ballads best as her strong vocals really work well with slower music. The song is a pretty standard Mandopop ballad and while it isn’t as strong as the title track from her first album, it’s still a solid song. I think part of that is the relatively catchy melody and the production being crisp and clean. The bridge into the final chorus is probably my favourite part of the song. Absurd is yet another ballad (all three tracks are ballads) and it pretty much follows the same path of the last song, focusing on the piano and A-Lin’s vocals. At first, this one sounds like the last song, but it gets better at the chorus where the heavy percussion and strings come slamming in. It really brings the energy up and is a nice surprise that helps the song stay different from the other. I think I like this one more. Changing Seasons is a bit gentler of the trio. This lets it stand out in a way, but it also comes off a bit weaker than the others. The melody is nice and the mix of music with the melody makes me feel it has some more “traditional” aspects in its influence. A decent song, but it feels a bit outdone by the other two ballads.

Overall: This is a pretty strong mini and a nice follow-up from her first album. I do like the idea of using three ballads, but I just wish there was a bit more variety in the music. All three have slight differences but the general feel is pretty much the same and A-Lin has the vocal capabilities to take on something a bit more dramatic than the songs on here. I think a large part of what makes this mini so strong is the great production (must be Avex).

B+

[Album] Coco Lee – Promise Me

Promise Me is the second album released by Coco Lee.

promiseme
Released: December, 1994
1. I’m Still Your Lover (Unplugged) (我依然是你的情人)
2. Sincere Intentions (真心真意)
3. Promise Me (答應我)
4. Love, Never Comes Back Again (愛,再也不回來)
5. Don’t Let Me Really Fall in Love with You (別讓我真愛上你)
6. Let Me Love (讓我愛吧)
7. Unfaithful (變心)
8. Love Come So Easy
9. Fly (飛)
10. You are Not My Only One (你不是我的唯一)
11. Let the World Be More Beautiful (Merry Christmas) (讓世界更美麗)

In a way to connect this album to her first one, the album opens with an unplugged version of a song from her first album. I’m Still Your Lover (Unplugged) basically has Coco attempting the song acapella at the start and we really get a sense of her vocal abilities. It’s a short rendition, but it’s a nice way to open things up and it’s nice they picked the best song from her first album. Sincere Intentions comes off as a total 90’s pop ballad to me with its explosive music and soaring melody. The song does come a bit too generic and I feel like there isn’t that much that really makes it stand out from her other songs. It’s not particularly catchy, but the thing that the song does do well is show off Coco’s strong vocals. It’s not bad and I do like it, but I’ve heard better. The title track, Promise Me, is a change of pace as we are given something a bit more laid back with a nice touch of acoustic guitar. I do like how the song builds up into the chorus. It’s not that catchy, but the melody is definitely more memorable than the last song’s melody. It’s a decent tune, but once again, not a stand out in Coco’s discography. Love, Never Comes Back Again is a nice ballad, but with Chinese flair in terms of the synths used. It does bring something a bit different in the music compared to the other ballads, but at the same, the whole feeling of the song is a bit outdated and the structure is very similar to other songs on here. I want to like this song more, but it just doesn’t quite change throughout its four minutes. I wish the final chorus was more dramatic, but Coco flutters on her head voice a lot, so it doesn’t quite have the same impact. Don’t Let Me Really Fall in Love with You starts off sounding like another of your classic 90’s pop ballads. However, once the chorus comes popping in, the tune totally turns to the Mandopop side of things. It has a powerful backing, but the melody isn’t as powerful and floats on top of the heavy percussion. Fortunately, the good thing about this song is that the melody totally has the nostalgia factor to it. It’s much more memorable than the other songs up to this point. Let Me Love just comes out of nowhere and I love it. This is the first upbeat dance song and it totally has that 90’s house vibe to it that keeps it exciting. I know Coco can do some great upbeat tunes and this is a great example. The melody is catchy and the music is explosive and has a lot of energy. My only gripe is that Coco sings a lot of it in her head voice, so I feel like it would have been more powerful if she used her mixed voice more. Unfaithful starts off with a more traditional Chinese sound, but then switches to something more pop/rock. It’s a decent tune and I do like the change in sound, but I wish it played up the traditional vibe a bit more as it would have been a nice surprise. The song sort of ends up forgettable anyways. Love Come So Easy has a bit of a Mediterranean sound going on and has a more relaxed style. These kinds of songs just aren’t my cup of tea and while the song does have its charms, it just comes off a bit boring for me. It’s more background music, although I do like the guitar throughout the song. Fly is another pop ballad and I feel like it brings a bit of oldschool charm to its melody. Unfortunately, the music is just generic and it doesn’t really help allow the melody to stand out. It literally feels like someone copy and pasted another songs background music and pasted it here. Coco does sound quite nice though. You are Not My Only One is yet another pop ballad, although the music of this one is a bit jazzier. Unfortunately by this point, these ballads are doing nothing for me. The melodies aren’t bad, but the music is just so generic that it’s a bit difficult to get through them. It suffers from the same fate as the last song. Let the World Be More Beautiful (Merry Christmas) is a nice change just because it adds something different. This one, like the title says, has a bit of a Christmas vibe to it due to the music and inclusion of child choir. The biggest change though is that halfway through the song, the song just changes and becomes some upbeat pop tune. It’s not catchy, but at least it isn’t a ballad.

Overall: Coco’s first album wasn’t that strong, but I was hoping for something a bit stronger with this. I mean there is one really good song on here, but the majority of the album included these old school ballads that started to all blend into one. I wish there was a bit more variety, specifically more upbeat tunes as my main problem was that the music was really copy and paste for a lot of the songs. Also, the production of the songs was also off. There was some potential, but that mostly laid in Coco being such an expression vocalist.

C

[Album] Jolin Tsai – Don’t Stop

Don’t Stop is the second album released by Jolin Tsai. It continued the girl-next-door image that Jolin became known for. The album proved to be an even bigger success as it sold over 400,000 copies.

dontstop
Released: April 26, 2000
1. Don’t Stop
2. Are You Happy? (你快樂嗎)
3. What Kind of Love? (什麼樣的愛)
4. You Gotta Know
5. Eternity (永恆)
6. Everything’s Gonna Be Alright (Hi) (嗨)
7. Words of Loneliness (孤單的人總說無所謂)
8. Floating (漂浮)
9. Love Song for You (唱這首歌)
10. Sugar Sugar

The album opens with Don’t Stop, which is a cover of S Club 7’s Bring It All Back. It does try to change things up because it adds a bit of guitar throughout the song to give it a pop/rock edge to it compared to the poppier original. It’s a catchy song and this version still retains that. I don’t think I’m in love with it because it just doesn’t push things to the next level, but Jolin does sound more confident than on her first album. Are You Happy? is the album’s main ballad single and it is the best song on here (and stronger than anything on her debut). First, the song has a great melody and it is memorable. It’s the type of song that is easy to sing along to. Also, Jolin’s voice sounds much stronger and she has better control over her voice. She still isn’t the strongest vocalist, but she does handle the ending note change much better at the end. What Kind of Love? is another ballad that is quite similar to the last song. I don’t think this one is as memorable, but it is still a nice tune. It’s a bit calmer and less passionate sounding, but the energy does pick up a little more later on. It’s not that bad, but it does come off a bit boring because Jolin’s voice is a bit monotone throughout. You Gotta Know comes in and it is an upbeat pop tune with some light rock elements. It sounds a bit like a cover, but I’m not sure. It really reminds me of songs from the mid-90’s, but not as catchy. The way the vocals are edited is a bit off and it just comes off dull and while the music has energy, but the melody just doesn’t hit that spot. Not bad, but just incredibly average. Eternity is yet another ballad. It starts off very similar to the last ballad with its gentle sound and gradual push. I must say that I like this song more than the last song because Jolin’s sweet vocals work really nicely with the music. Unfortunately, the song tries to step things up at the end and it just doesn’t work. It’s a bit of a mess vocally. Everything’s Gonna Be Alright (Hi) is a big change as we are given an upbeat reggae tune. The song isn’t terrible, but it is a nice change of pace and sound. I don’t think the hooks are as strong as I want them to be, but I like the vibe the music gives. The odd background vocals do ruin the song a bit though and I don’t quite like how Jolin’s voice is edited. Could be better to be honest. Words of Loneliness is a darker sounding ballad and the music nicely fits the music and lyrics. This one really reminds me of something from the mid-90’s in C-Pop, which is a nice change as the ballads always came off a bit more emotional at that time. Unfortunately, the song doesn’t really change much throughout and keeps up at a pretty steady sound and atmosphere. I wish it did get a bit more powerful as it is a longer tune (around five minutes). Still a nice tune though. Floating is an upbeat song with a bit of a heavier bass background. I quite like the more laid back and carefree vibe of the song and the odd fusion of instruments that come in is an interesting surprise as well. The melody isn’t particularly catchy, but there’s a charm to its unpredictability that is a nice change from some of the other songs. Love Song for You is a cover of a Lee Soo Young song. I’m not as familiar with the original, but the chorus does sound more like a Korean ballad. It’s a nice tune, but I don’t think it’s as powerful as it could be. The music sounds more like the karaoke version due to the instruments used and Jolin’s voice just isn’t as strong as Lee Soo Young’s. Sugar Sugar is a cover of the famous Sugar Sugar song by The Archies (yes, the comic). I like that it tries to update things but bringing a dance beat and some more computerized sounding synths. It’s an interesting twist and I think it is one of the catchier songs on here. The weirdest part though is that there is a rap that was used here that is also featured in Kim Hyun Jung’s Breakup With Her.

Overall: This album was much better than her debut album. There are actually some good, memorable tracks on here and Jolin sounds much stronger. Unfortunately, the album is still weak in some areas. I feel like many of songs just didn’t take things to the next level or the way the music was done was just not as interesting. The covers were mostly weaker than the originals because the changes in music made them feel more like karaoke versions. It is a step up, but it could be better.

C+

[Album] Elva Hsiao – Red Rose

Red Rose is the second album released by Elva Hsiao. The album continued Elva’s success as it included two of Elva’s big hits of 2000.

redrose
Released: August 15, 2000
1. In the Rainy Season (雨季中)
2. One Person’s Excellence (一個人的精彩)
3. The Weather Outside the Window (窗外的天氣)
4. Not Ready (準備好了沒有)
5. Hooked (上鉤了)
6. Night (夜)
7. Rose (薔薇)
8. Movie Trailer (電影預告)
9. Give Me an Opportunity to Love You (給我重新愛你的機會)
10. First Ask Yourself (先問你自己)
11. Memory Letter (回憶信箋)

Elva’s second album starts with the best song on the album, In the Rainy Season. It isn’t an in-your-face, get your attention kind of opening, but it is definitely a grower. It continues that R&B sound from her first album, but everything is more polished. The music, the melody and Elva’s voice all seem more mature. The melody isn’t particularly catchy, but I do like how it works with the music and Elva’s voice fits this sound way better. Great! One Person’s Excellence is more upbeat than the last song as it has a steady dance beat going on throughout the song. At first, it doesn’t sound too interesting, but I actually enjoy how the song builds up on a feeling. It makes the song dramatic. The chorus is catchy and it’s the kind of song that is easy to sing along to. It does sound a bit outdated now, but it’s still a solid tune. The Weather Outside the Window is a slow moving R&B ballad. It starts off like it will have a bit of energy, but then everything just drops and we get something that drags on for a bit. The chorus is better because the melody starts to speed up a bit and it gains a bit of power to it. I do like this song though because the melody is quite nice. If the verses were cut a bit shorter, it would’ve been better though. Back to the pop side of things, Not Ready is a bit of an odd song. It is incredibly generic and just not my cup of tea. It relies a lot on repetition, but it isn’t catchy and the music isn’t particularly interesting either to give the song some power. Unfortunately, one of the weaker album tracks. Luckily, Hooked is much better than the last song. While it brings back that R&B sound, it is more on the midtempo side of things and easily the catchiest song on the album. I feel like this kind of song was very popular around this time and I love it. Elva’s deeper tone really suits the song and works nicely with the light funk sound it has. Night brings something a bit more on the slower side and I’m on the fence with it. The song has some clever hooks and I do enjoy it as I think it samples (or covers) an older tune. My main problem is that it is just a bit too slow and the music sounds really oldschool. Elva does sound really nice here and she doesn’t overdo it. The title track, Rose, starts off in an interesting way. I have actually grown to really enjoy this song. I feel like it does need to be tweaked in some areas, but I do like it’s slight pop/rock take on things even though it’s more of a ballad. The song has a nice melody and it features one of Elva’s stronger vocal performances. It all really blends well together. Movie Trailer brings back to the uptempo pace. This song isn’t the strongest upbeat offering, but it is a decent tune. I quite like its slight disco influence and the song is quite catchy even though its a bit repetitive. While there are some odd adlibs around the end, I do think Elva’s voice sounds better compared to her first album. Give Me the Opportunity to Love You is the next ballad and is an 80’s slow jam. At first, this song sounds incredibly dull. The verses are really forgettable. The only thing that makes it stand out is the chorus. The melody here is really quite beautiful and I love how Elva sings it. It is sort of intoxicating.  Also, Elva’s belting at the end sounds great too. It’s not a bad song, but the verses could be worked on. First Ask Yourself is the most aggressive song on the album as it has some stronger hip-hop elements to it. It’s an interesting change compared to the more pop/R&B take the rest of the album goes. It’s a bit outdated sounding at this point and I find that the melody is a bit “heavy” sounding, especially over this music. It does have some catchy hooks, but it’s a bit on the average side. Memory Letter ends the album on a weird note as it introduces some sounds that aren’t heard throughout the rest of the album. It has a more eerie quality to it, especially with how Elva sings it. Surprisingly, it is a good tune. I do think it does get a bit dull at first because it is difficult to differentiate the different parts of the song, but it does get better around the end.

Overall: I enjoy this album just slightly more than her debut just because I like the darker mood of the album. With that said, it’s still another decent release. There are some solid songs on here and I like that she did try a few different things. My main problem is that some of the songs sound really outdated (expected in a way) and that the music is sometimes lacking compared to the melodies. Also, sometimes the songs would just drag on for a while. A few could have been cut shorter.

B

[Album] Rainie Yang – My Intuition

Rainie Yang initially began in a girl group called 4 in Love, but soon her success in some hit dramas led her to branch out on her own. Her debut album, My Intuition, was released with great anticipation and her debut single, the title track, was a huge hit in Taiwan. Since then, she has released a number of albums and appeared in many dramas.

myintuition
Released: September 9, 2005
1. Are You Obedient? (乖不乖)
2. Ambiguous (曖昧)
3. Ideal Lover (理想情人)
4. Just Wanna Love You (只想愛你)
5. Single Eyelids (單眼皮)
6. Habit (習慣)
7. Disappear (不見)
8. Color of Love (愛情的顏色)
9. True Blue
10. Next Time’s Smile (下一次微笑)

I like that the album opens on an upbeat note with Are You Obedient?, which is a funky pop tune with a cool guitar line. I like that they tried to spice it up a bit with the music, although I don’t think Rainie’s vocals are particularly eventful. Her sweet tone doesn’t suit this style. It’s still a catchy tune though. The title track, Ambiguous, is a stunning pop ballad. It’s definitely more on the generic side of Mandopop ballads with its gentle guitar, piano and synths, but what makes it so stunning is the gorgeous melody. It’s quite memorable and Rainie sings the lyrics with such conviction that she really elevates the song. Her sweet tone definitely works best here. Ideal Lover is more on the midtempo side of things, although it still sounds like a ballad. It starts in a pretty gentle way. The verses actually remind me a bit of “Part of Your World” from the Little Mermaid. The chorus has more energy to it, which provides a nice contrast  to the last song. Unfortunately, I don’t think the melody is as strong. It’s a solid tune, just not a stand out. Just Wanna Love You is your standard Mandopop tune. I really like how Rainie sounds in the verses and she utilizes a bit more of her lower register. I do like the laid back vibe of the melody and it works really nicely with the music. This was a surprisingly nice tune. Single Eyelids is the first upbeat tune since the first track and it takes on a more pop/rock approach. While the music is fun and reminds me of the 90’s, I’m not quite into the melody. It isn’t particularly melodic and just sounds like Rainie is trying to get in as many words as she could. It’s a bit underwhelming, although not a bad track. Habit slows things back down with another ballad. This time, we are given something a bit more dramatic with the elegant strings and grand sounding melody. I do think the song is rather nice, but Rainie’s vocals are a bit weak at this point to really elevate the song to the next level. I do like the bridge a lot it brings in some heavy guitars to step the song up. Disappear is a midtempo bubblegum pop song. It’s the sweetest sounding song on the album and works nicely with Rainie’s voice. Unfortunately, I feel like it’s a bit of a forgettable tune as the melody isn’t particular interesting. The music is also rather laidback. Color of Love is a slower pop tune and I quite like how it starts off. The instruments are all very soft and come in slowly. My only problem with the song is that transition into the chorus. The song is so calm and then this sudden transition is really jarring. I’m not particularly fond of the chorus melody either. True Blue is the most upbeat song on the album and is an exciting upbeat pop tune with some rock elements. I actually like the verses more than the chorus as while the melody is catchy, it just doesn’t stick. It’s a decent tune though and the best of the upbeat songs. I’m not quite sure what to think of Next Time’s Smile. It is like a ballad, but has a brighter arrangement to it. It’s quite calming and is a nice tune, but I think it is the weakest of the ballads. The singing is a bit shaky and the song isn’t particularly memorable. It does end the album on a gentle note, but it isn’t that exciting.

Overall: I didn’t know what to expect coming into this album, but I’m just slightly disappointed. I love the title track and it is one of my favourite Chinese songs, so I was hoping for at least another stellar tune. Unfortunately, there wasn’t anything particularly strong. With that said, there are some decent tunes and a bit of variety that keeps things interesting.

B-

[Album] Jay Chou – Jay

Jay Chou initially started as a songwriter before making his own debut in 2000. With his strong songwriting skills, he became an overnight success and has since become one of the most popular and influential pop artists in the Chinese-speaking world. Jay is his self-titled debut album.

jaychou
Released: November 7, 2000
1. Adorable Lady (可愛女人)
2. Perfectionism (完美主義)
3. Starry Mood (星晴)
4. Wife (娘子)
5. Bullfight (鬥牛)
6. Black Humour (黑色幽默)
7. Istanbul (伊斯坦堡)
8. Old Indian Turtledove (印地安老斑鳩)
9. Tornado (龍捲風)
10. The Counter-clockwise Clock (反方向的鐘)

Adorable Lady was the biggest hit from the album and opens in a midtempo ballad kind of way. I quite like the odd beat mixed with the piano foundation. The melody isn’t bad, but it is quite repetitive and the mixing sort of causes it fade into the background. It’s not a bad starter, but the music is definitely stronger than the melody. Perfectionism is a bit more dramatic as it has some hip-hop elements to it. It’s definitely stronger than the last song, but I don’t think Jay’s voice really elevates the song. It’s a catchy tune and there are some really clever aspects to the melody and it can be quite unpredictable at times. Starry Mood is a laidback R&B/pop tune. It has a gentle beat and relies a lot on the guitar and background vocals. The melody is the type that’s easy to sing along to, although I don’t think its the most engaging of songs. The song focuses on that melody because the music is a bit lackluster. It’s still not bad though. Wife sort of follows the laidback guitar vibe of the last song. It isn’t bad, but Jay’s voice just doesn’t quite bring the song to the next level for me. He does struggle hitting some notes at times and it does come off a bit odd to hear. I do like one section of the song where the background vocals come in and become the focus. Also, the instrumental breakdown with the more “Chinese” style is a nice inclusion. Not bad. Bullfight has some stronger R&B elements to it and I do like it more than the last few songs. It has some really interesting musical aspects that really give it an edge. Also, Jay sounds much better here and his voice fits the laid back R&B style more, especially when he brings in a bit of rapping. Up to this point, it’s the strongest tune. Black Humour is surprisingly the first full-fledged ballad. I was actually expecting something a little different considering the name of the song. It does start off a little messy as Jay’s voice sounds shaky, but he does get a bit more confidence during the chorus. There are a few struggle notes though. The melody is quite charming and sounds much better with the fuller instrumental at the end. Istanbul brings back that laid back R&B vibe. It really sounds like an early 2000’s C-Pop song. I think Jay’s singing sounds better in this kind of song and while he does struggle to hit some notes, the chorus is definitely smoother and catchier. I just wish it had some more energy to it as it comes off quite forgettable in the long run. Old Indian Turtledove is the most popping song up to this point. The music has some spice to it and some cooler jazzier elements that it brings in. I don’t think the song is really that catchy though and I feel like it relies a lot on the music. Tornado is quite nice though. It’s more on the ballad feel despite having a steady beat and piano. I especially enjoy the pre-chorus and chorus as these parts have some of the catchier parts of the album. This is the type of song I was hoping to hear from this album because it is that laid back R&B vibe but with the kind of melody with some impact. I love how The Counter-clockwise Clock starts off with the piano and slowly brings in a beat and odd synth-line. It has an eerie, but cool quality to it. The verses feel a bit held back and the pre-chorus is really odd, but the chorus isn’t bad. I don’t think the music totally fits with the melody, but it sort of reminds me of a J-Pop song.

Overall: This isn’t a bad debut album, but I think I was expecting a lot more considering Jay’s capabilities as a songwriter. Maybe it is because this was his first, but I had two major problems with this album. The first was that there was some really great arrangements, but the melodies were just forgettable. The second was that Jay’s voice just didn’t elevate the songs. I understand he has his own style of singing, but in this album he was either giving very low energy or he was struggling to hit high notes. With that said, there were definitely some good tunes. I don’t think they were the best, but the potential was totally there and some of the music was quite beautiful.

B-