Singapore Scene: New heartbreak tunes from JJ Lin, Narelle, Jonny Ong

Releases from Jonny Ong, JJ Lin featuring Anne Marie, The Dream Dealers and Wanglianc11.
Releases from Jonny Ong, JJ Lin featuring Anne Marie, The Dream Dealers and Wanglianc11.PHOTOS: JFJ PRODUCTIONS, SOUND PORTAL STUDIOS, TOASTED NEON RECORDS, WANGLIANC11

SINGAPORE - Heartbreak can be a powerful muse.

The recent crop of releases by home-grown music acts include Isolation, an album of 15 songs by singer, songwriter and musician Jonny Ong inspired by a break-up. In their duet, Mandopop star JJ Lin and British pop singer Anne-Marie sing about a relationship gone sour while pop singer-songwriter Narelle's third EP, Part 3, has a song that reflects on the complexities of a love affair.

Singer Pravin Saivi's new single has a connection with Oscar-winner A. R. Rahman while pop artiste Hyrul Anuar wants to make the world smile with a positive track.

Check out the releases on music streaming platforms such as Spotify, Apple Music and Bandcamp.

1. Psychedelic Rock/Alternative Rock

Isolation

Jonny Ong - The Ballad of J&J (Are We Over?) 

Isolation is the sophomore album by Singapore-born, London-based singer, songwriter and musician Jonny Ong, the follow-up to 2018's Visions Of The Aquatic.

The album comprises 15 songs inspired by a heartbreak. The painting on its cover depicts an astronaut looking into a mirror, which reflects Ong, his former girlfriend and three dogs - a vision of the perfect life that could have been.

"When I wrote the album, I isolated myself from the rest of the world," he says. "I was going through a break-up and music has always been my escape. In the past, I've tended to avoid writing lyrics that are personal, but with this, I really went deep into my heart. It's quite dark in places, but there's a lot of hope."

2. Hip-hop

Ratmir Johnson

Ratmir Johnson - HEY BABY

Rapper, singer, songwriter and musician Ratmir Johnson's debut EP/album is cryptically titled "." - a single full stop - and includes tracks such as Snakes and Halloween.

He did all the production on the eight tracks, which also feature other home-grown artistes. Rapper-singer Mickeyleano from Mediocre Haircut Crew and singer Elsa Mickayla appear on the song Free Love, while singer Naomi G has a cameo in the music video for Hey Baby.

3. Pop/Ballad

Bedroom

JJ Lin featuring Anne-Marie

Mandopop star JJ Lin's new single Bedroom is a piano ballad in English and a duet with British singer-songwriter Anne-Marie. The pair worked remotely on the track, Lin in Taipei and Anne-Marie in London.

The track is from Lin's recently released EP Like You Do, which comprises songs sung in English.

Lin says: "I've been very impressed by Anne's songwriting talent and stage presence and I think she has the most angelic voice. I am truly honoured to be working with her on such a beautiful song."

Anne-Marie is equally thrilled at the collaboration. "I'm a huge fan of JJ Lin and I'm so excited this has come together," she says. "I love Bedroom, it's such a special song to me and he has made it sound even more beautiful."

4. Jazz/Pop

Free Will

Pravin Saivi and Sakthi Amaran

Free Will is the latest track from Chennai-based Singaporean singer-songwriter Pravin Saivi. It is a collaboration with Indian singer Sakthi Amaran.

Sung in English and Tamil, it is Pravin's first track under Maajja, a platform for indie musicians founded by Oscar-winning Indian music star A. R. Rahman. Pravin is the first Singaporean to be signed to the company.

5. Pop

Bulan Sabit Di Bibir

Hyrul Anuar

Bulan Sabit Di Bibir (Crescent Moon On The Lips) is the latest upbeat single from Hyrul Anuar, who won singing competition Anugerah 2005.

In a recent interview with Berita Harian, the singer-songwriter said the 1980s pop-inspired Malay track is meant to inspire and raise spirits.

6. Pop

Part 3

Narelle

Part 3 is the final instalment of singer-songwriter Narelle's solo EP trilogy.

It comprises two tracks, Complicated Love Song and Just Shut Up, previously released as a single.

The member of pop band The Sam Willows has described Complicated Love Song as a song about "moving on, acceptance and letting go" after a complex relationship.

7. Folk

The Heart Records

Dream Dealers

The Heart Records is the debut album from folk duo The Dream Dealers, made up of Singaporean singer Adia Tay and English musician William du Toit.

The pair worked on the songs while under lockdown in Britain.

Says Tay, who released her debut EP Kintsugi in 2019: "We did everything ourselves from instrumentation to mixing to the album cover, so it's quite ramshackle and questionable really, but we're still bloody proud of it. I played the electric guitar and bass and even hit a metal water bottle at one point. It was good fun."

8. Pop punk/Indie pop

Something To Hide

RENE

After a string of singles, singer-songwriter Rene has released her debut EP, Something To Hide, which is made up of five songs written and produced in the last 1½ years.

The songs' themes include self-reflection, personal relationships, hopefulness and despondency.

Rene was one of the budding artistes who were part of music programme The Great Singapore Replay: Season 2 (2019 - 2020) and was mentored by singer-songwriter Charlie Lim.

9. Folk/Indie Pop

Ideals

Jason Yu

Ideals is the debut EP by singer-songwriter Jason Yu, who used to busk along Orchard Road.

It includes I Miss You, a track written while he was studying abroad.

"More often than not, we take what's already there for granted," he says of the song. "I learnt that through being homesick while living abroad. Home, for me, encompasses its people, my family, who are very important to me. This single is for them."

10. Electronic/Hip-hop/Experimental

Wanglian EP

Wanglianc11

Singapore-based singer Wanglianc11 has released his debut EP, Wanglian.

An amalgam of genres including hip-hop, afrobeat and reggaeton, it comprises five tracks sung and rapped in Mandarin.

The rapper and producer made his debut in a 2016 compilation of electronic artistes put out by Beijing music label Do Hits.