[Album] Leehom Wang – If You Hear My Song

If You Hear My Song is the second album released by Leehom Wang. While his first album saw little success, Leehom moved record labels and was eventually promoted as someone with strong abilities in songwriter. This eventually led to his second album receiving moderate success and helping him to establish himself as a rising star.

ifyoulistentomysong
Released: August 7, 1996
1. If You Hear My Song (如果你聽見我的歌)
2. Call Me One Thousand Times (喊我一千遍)
3. Go Love (去愛)
4. Front Page Rock’n’Roll (頭版搖滾)
5. Stand By Me
6. It’s You (頭版搖滾)
7. Having You is Enough (有你就足夠了)
8. As Long As I Have You
9. Love is Difficult to Pull (情難牽)
10. Better Off Alone

Although I wasn’t too impressed by any songs off of his first album, the title track here, If You Hear My Song, is one of my favourite songs from him. It’s a slow ballad that has a very strong 90’s nostalgic sound to it. I love how it slowly gains steam before it goes into the chorus. The melody is really nice and I love how strong his voice sounds. It really complements the power the melody needs. It’s a great starter and one of his most emotional songs. Call Me One Thousand Times is actually a funky pop tune and it wasn’t what I was expecting. I do find the verses really odd as the singing is a bit weirder and the background vocals are also very strange. I feel like this song isn’t my cup of tea because it just doesn’t have a more obvious structure and the whole song just comes off a little awkward. There are some interesting parts, but I’m not a big fan of the overall delivery. Go Love is slow like a ballad, but has a brighter sound to it. It reminds me of something from his first album. I’m not sure what to feel about this song because the melody isn’t particularly memorable and it seems really choppy. The music is a bit soulful, but doesn’t quite push things either. I think it’s just sort of in an odd place. Front Page Rock’n’Roll is a fun upbeat pop/rock and while it isn’t that catchy, it has a great energy to it. I also love the music as the rock elements work really nicely with the splashes of brass. It sort of reminds me of songs from the early late 80’s/early 90’s that would be featured in some fun movies. It’s just a lot of fun and Leehom sounds like he is having a blast as well. Stand By Me is a contemporary cover of the Ben E. King classic of the same name. This is a great song and I love the song in its original form, so I was interested in Leehom’s take. He tries to make it a bit more R&B and hip-hop, but I’m not quite sure if those choices were great. He uses some really odd instruments like a freaky squeaking sound that just distracts things at the most crucial point of the song. It’s unfortunate because Leehom sounds great singing this. It’s You is a slower ballad that focuses a lot on a gentle guitar. I really want to like this song, but it’s just too slow and sleep-inducing. It is nice and soft, but feels more like a lullaby. The music doesn’t really do much and just keeps this gentle quality going. Sweet song, but just not for me. Having You is Enough is another slow acoustic ballad and I’m not sure if I can get through this one. I do feel like it doesn’t have that dreamier quality of the last song, so it has a bit more power and I quite like how Leehom’s voice sounds here. With that said, it just feels so long and like it doesn’t really go anywhere. These kinds of songs are always hit or miss for me. And…As Long As I Have You is the English version of this song. I’m surprised they put it right after the original because that’s three really slow acoustic ballads in a row and two of them were the same song. An odd choice. Love is Difficult to Pull is another ballad, but finally we get something with piano. I quite like the feeling of this song because the verses always feel like they are trying to show that something good is coming in the chorus. The chorus’ melody actually isn’t what I was expecting, but it’s not that bad. I was expecting something bigger and more grand, but this one goes through little bursts of power and an unpredictable melody. Better Off Alone is another English song, though I’m pretty sure this is an original. It has a jazzier vibe to it that sets it apart from the other songs on here. I mean I do like the sound of it, especially the chorus, which is more energetic and quite catchy. I was not expecting that power as the verses are quite slick. I didn’t like it at first, but this song definitely grew on me.

Overall: To be honest, I was a bit surprised coming out of this album. The first song is amazing and one of his best songs ever, but the rest of the album just fell flat for me. His first album didn’t have many stand out pieces, but the songs were on a more consistent level. He played around with his sound more often on here, but it was just hit-or-miss. The slower acoustic songs were especially disappointing for me.

C

Advertisements

[Album] Leehom Wang – Love Rival Beethoven

Leehom debuted in 1995 in Taiwan to moderate success. It took him until his fifth album to get a breakthrough and since then he has been one of the top Mandopop artists in the world. With almost 20 albums released in his twenty-three year career, he has continued to release quality songs that have become classics. Love Rival Beethoven is his debut album.

loverivalbeethoven
Released: December 1, 1995
1. Four Seasons (四季)
2. Love Rival Beethoven (情敵貝多芬)
3. You Hurt My Heart (你傷了我的心)
4. Cry for Me Again, Okay? (為我哭一次好不好)
5. Love Me Tender
6. Listen to the Rain (聽雨)
7. Flying Free with Love (乘著愛自由的飛)
8. The Water is Wide
9. Don’t Be Like This or I’ll Cry (別這樣我會哭)
10. Last Night

Love Rival Beethoven opens with the ballad, Four Seasons. It’s a pretty gentle pop ballad that has a nice mix of acoustic and strings. The production of the song is totally 90’s, especially the vocal editing. It’s a bit outdated sounding, but I do like this touch as it adds an effect to the song and makes it a bit more charming. The arrangement is actually really nice and I love the instrumental breaks where the guitar and strings loop in and out. The melody is a bit dull though and I think it could have benefited from a stronger chorus. Love Rival Beethoven is a nice change because we are given something a bit more upbeat. It’s definitely a very bright and happy sounding kind of song with its fun piano and electric guitar mix. I quite love the subtle additions of other instruments in the background like the trumpets, triangle and organ. It’s a fun mix. With that said, the song is a bit cheesy and while the melody is cute, I do think it could be more memorable. You Hurt My Heart is of course a ballad and it’s definitely the darkest song up to this point. I quite love how it starts with Leehom and the piano and it really reminds me of the sad ballads from the 90’s. The chorus is especially nice and the melody is the first that really stands out to me. It works really well when the music gains a bit of stream around the halfway point. I do think the final chorus could push it a bit more, but it’s a nice song. Another piano-focused ballad, Cry for Me Again, Okay? is actually really similar to the last song. The melody is different, but the arrangement and delivery of the song is definitely similar. With that said, I wish the song sort of pushed things up another notch to really push the emotion into the song. Even while the music gets more and more instruments, there is this sense of emptiness in the arrangement. It does have a lot of potential though. Love Me Tender is a cover of the Elvis Presley song of the same name. It’s the third ballad in the row and probably the most sentimental. I quite enjoy the arrangement because it just focuses on the piano and strings and brings something really haunting and beautiful. I do find the part in the middle where Leehom speaks French to be a bit odd because it sort of adds a weird portion to the song that drags on for a while. It’s nice, but could do without that middle dialogue. Listen to the Rain is the fourth ballad on the album and sort of leaves the darker sounds of the others in favour of something a bit lighter. Unfortunately, because of the production, the song really blends in with the other ballads on the album. Also, I don’t really like the chorus. Leehom stretches and strains his voice so it doesn’t really sound that nice. It’s a largely forgettable song. Flying Free with Love finally gives us something with a little more energy. The verses are a bit calm, but the chorus has a steady beat that really brings some more life into the album. I don’t think the melody is that memorable, but it’s still a nice addition. I just wish the song had a bit more power to it. However, I do think Leehom’s vocal performance was really great here and the vocal arrangement has some clever tricks. The Water is Wide is a cover of an old folk song. It’s an interesting addition to the album with its more acoustic backdrop. Leehom also sounds amazing here and his deeper tone really suits the song. It sort of reminds me of something that Josh Groban would probably release. It’s gentle and soft and while it’s not the strongest song, it has a calm charm to it. Don’t Be Like This or I’ll Cry is another sad sounding ballad. The production is really oldschool 90’s with its keyboard sounding arrangement and reverb. The song starts off a bit empty and the verses are a bit forgettable. The chorus is a bit better and the melody is quite nice. However, I wish the arrangement was able to support it a bit more. It just doesn’t seem as full as it could be to really elevate the song. I’m not sure if Last Night is a cover as well because it is in English, but it’s an interesting way to end the album. I really love Leehom’s voice in the English songs and he sounds great here. The arrangement of the song only includes the guitar and it has this very 60’s/70’s sound to it. It’s a bit oldschool, but I actually quite like it.

Overall: This wasn’t a terrible debut, but it was just really forgettable. There were some decent songs, but nothing that I would really want to revisit often. I think the biggest problem with the album was the production. A lot of times, the songs just lacked a strong backing that really helped to propel the songs to the next level. Fortunately, he has definitely improved from this.

C+