New albums by CNBlue's Jung Yong Hwa and Vandetta

South Korean pop-rock band CNBlue's Jung Yong Hwa is coming into his own as a solo artist.

Since his debut album One Fine Day came out two years ago, the frontman has grown as a musician and embraced more genres in his follow-up EP, Do Disturb.

The singer-songwriter also had a hand in writing the melody and lyrics for all six tracks.

Ditching the comfort zone of ballads, he tries out deep house for the first time in Password. The groovy track is co-written by Peter Wallevik, who has composed for international stars such as One Direction and Olly Murs.

The self-penned tune, Navigation, was inspired by Jung's poor sense of direction and reliance on good old GPS, or Global Positioning System.

The melancholic song has a deeper message. He sings to encourage listeners to use their dreams as a guiding force whenever they feel lost.

  • K-POP


    Jung Yong Hwa

    FNC Entertainment

    3.5/5 stars

For the lead track, he serves up the catchy summer jam That Girl, an upbeat concoction of pop, funk and rap.

At the sight of his ideal girl, Jung exclaims in Korean in his soaring vocals: "Mama, I finally found my baby." Then he switches to English: "I'm ready to give all my lovin' to you, oh babe."

The light-hearted love confession is interrupted by rapper Loco. The song could have done without the bass-heavy rap interludes as they do not blend in with the breezy melody.

Not all the experimenting paid off on this album. But music lover Jung sounds like he had fun taking risks on his journey of musical self-discovery.

Gwendolyn Ng

Last year, the piano connoisseurs' festival in the North German seaside town of Husum founded by German pianist Peter Froundjian marked its 30th edition, with 12 concerts featuring 14 pianists and a string quartet.



    Danacord 789

    5/5 stars

This disc of highlights is the embodiment and distillation of its philosophy of showcasing rare Romantic repertoire, piano transcriptions and unusual encores.

While Earl Wild's transcriptions of Rachmaninov songs, Stephen Hough's witty take on My Favourite Things from The Sound Of Music, and Brahms' Hungarian Dance No. 11 should no longer be considered rarities, they receive lovely performances by Martin Jones, Simon Callaghan and the duo of Cyprien Katsaris and Helene Mercier respectively.

However, there is a lot to discover in works by Alexandrov, Casadesus, Chaminade, Coke, Kirchner, Moniuszko and Reubke, just to relive some forgotten names.

The longest track at nearly seven minutes is reserved for Liszt's Hymne De La Nuit, a gem of rare introspection discarded from his cycle Harmonies Poetiques Et Religieuses. Here, young Russian pianist Zlata Chochieva exposes the lie that Liszt was a vulgarian.

Max Reger's Larghetto from Dreams At The Fireplace is a tribute to Chopin's Berceuse, shaped with much beauty by Joseph Moog. Herbert Rutkowski playing compatriot Paderewski's Nocturne is another cherished moment, while the Grau/Schumacher duo make light work of Busoni's arrangement of Mozart's The Magic Flute Overture.

Here is delightful listening from a unique festival.

Chang Tou Liang

On the track You Know I Wanna, Vandetta, whose real name is Vanessa Fernandez, sings in a near whisper.




    Ownself Records

    4/5 stars

Like a soothsayer telling you that everything is going to be okay, she sings a message of hope: "Take a breath and let it build you up when all is lost, baby you will find the answer in your heart, waiting for you."

Over moody chords and a simple beat by producer Fauxe, a spoken word portion by veteran performer X'ho (Chris Ho) adds even more gravity: "It gets harder, but don't let yourself down... Let the fire and the desire take you higher."

The track is the most stripped back of all the songs on electronic artist Vandetta's five-track EP. Centring on the struggles of being in the Singapore music scene, hope is a strong thread that runs throughout.

As a champion of local talent, she has chosen to work only with homegrown producers - many from the world of hip-hop music - including long-time collaborator Kiat (Syndicate) and new blood such as Perk Pietrek and Lineath.

The former is responsible for Circling Square, a reimagining of the 1990s classic by home-grown band Humpback Oak. The standout track takes the folksy, guitar-driven original to lush, atmospheric dimensions with Vandetta's rich harmonies and soulful vocals.

Like an ode to the others that are part of the struggle of being a local musician, there is album closer YCDIB, named after the chorus on which she sings, "you can do it baby".

There is enough range on the EP, but the theme could have been explored more. Hopefully there will not be a long wait for her next collection of original works.

Anjali Raguraman

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 06, 2017, with the headline 'Hot Tracks'. Subscribe