SONGS OF THE BARDS
Taiwanese singer-songwriter Ko has a set of wonderfully raspy pipes: a little weathered, but also warm and gentle. And they are perfect for the peripatetic vibe here.
Three years in the making, his second album sounds richer when it comes to the arrangements and production. Take the opener, Man Without A Mission, which is propelled by guitars, drums and a stirring melody.
He has a ear for minor-key melodies and some of his songs would not be out of place on an album by, say, Irish troubadour Damien Rice, of whom he is apparently a fan.
WHEN I LEAVE TAIPEI
Leon Zheng Xing
The debut album from Chinese singer-songwriter Zheng is a tale of three cities. It traces a trajectory from Taiwan to Jiangsu province in China via tracks such as The Rain In Taipei, Hear It's Snowing In Beijing and Yangzhou Slow.
He has a voice that is without artifice or showiness, and perfect for these keenly observed folk-pop songs.
Touchingly, the album is also an aural keepsake, with sounds from nature and of the city, such as ambient noise at a metro station, finding their way here.
The Taiwanese singer's effortlessly lambent vocals continue to shine in her first album since 2014's Miracle. The production and arrangements feel of the moment without being slavishly faddish. The opening title track is a swoonsome slice of electro-pop, with her ethereal voice floating lightly over it.
Hsu, known for her love ballads, delivers a winner here with Springtime Allergies, a track about denial with memorable lyrics.
SINGLE A.I. LOVE
The Chinese-American singer-songwriter's synth-pop title track, about the impact of artificial intelligence on people's lives, seems to stem from concern for his children's well-being, as they grow up in uncertain technological times.
While it may be well-intentioned, the track is just too clunky and unwieldy - from the juxtaposition of A.I. with "ai", the Chinese word for love, to the awkward refrain of "Where should ethics be placed?"