January 15, 2011

Brasileiro Z Yan

I have been listening to the Brasileiro Z Yan CD produced by PopPop Music for the last couple of weeks. The CD went into my player in every listening session. This is telling something - Firstly, the song selection is interesting and the performance are excellent enough to stand up to repeated listening; Secondly, the quality of the recording, especially the purity of the vocal part is fast making it one of my reference discs for the female voice.

With her petite frame, I half expected that Z Yan had a girlish voice, one that might sound saccharine sweet and veer more towards the school of Teresa Teng. Was I wrong! The first time I slipped the CD into my player, I was surprised by the body that Z Yan’s voice exhibited. Her voice also showed maturity, but it is one that is tempered with a dose of youthful sweetness plus a dose of innocence. Sort of like a girl growing up and on the verge of blossoming into a woman.
The innocence in Z Yan’s voice is the part I appreciate the most. Her technique probably does not equate to a Cai Qin or a Cheer Chen, but her innocence is a breath of fresh air after listening to too many modern day commercial pop artists.

I was surprised that the track I liked most was track 5 “Coyness”. I thought the original singer of this song, the Chinese pop diva Faye Wong, had it down pat. But out came Z Yan’s interpretation which impressed me and convinced me that there indeed could be another side to this popular song. Faye Wong, with her signature breathy style, painted the dreamy picture of a girl pining at a guy, fantasizing how it would be if the guy reciprocated her love. Z Yan instead rendered the song in a straightforward manner. Hers is a modern, confident girl, who resolved that she’d no longer be hesitant in expressing her love, and feeling certain that the guy would love her back just like she loved him.

On this track, I also love Roger Wong’s Spartan and minimalist guitar accompaniment. Roger is a great collaborator; he placed his notes at the right places, sort of filling in all the gaps in between Z Yan’s vocal and making the performance complete.

My other fav is track 4 “romance in the rain”. In addition to its slightly quirky tune, this track is also a good test of your system’s resolving power and how correct your system is in rendering timbre. There is a scratchy sound that goes ‘sha sha sha….’ throughout the track. If your system is resolving enough, you would know how the sound was made. I don’t want to spoil your audiophile fun, suffice to say that it is a creative yet simple way of making music not with a musical instrument. If you are in doubt, you can get the correct answer in the production note of the track. The resulting sound effect fits this track’s Chinese title, literally ‘sha sha rain’, perfectly.

The album has a mix of classic and modern Chinese pop songs, a mix of slow numbers and fast numbers, tracks that are simple in its arrangement, such as Roger Wang’s solo guitar, or tracks that have a backing band, including saxophone, drum, double bass, piano etc.. In addition, the recording quality is consistently high throughout.

With such varied combinations, everyone should be able to find something to love on this album.

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