New albums by Andrew Tan, Wiley and Valentina Lisitsa

Grime Godfather by Wiley.
Grime Godfather by Wiley.PHOTO: CTA RECORDS

Make-up artist-turned-singer Andrew Tan remains best known for the hit ballad Queen, the title track off his 2010 debut album.

It is a pity - the Malaysian has a rich and sonorous set of pipes, which you might even call a handsome voice.

Dear Paranoia is a concerted effort to improve his fortunes with radio-friendly material about being in and out of love that showcases his vocals.

His falsetto is effortless in Internecine (Ju Shang), which features a brooding piano melody and a soaring chorus. Blue Love Theme (Hao Ai Hao San) plays to his strength as an emotive singer.


    • [[{"attributes":{},"fields":{}}]]DEAR PARANOIA

      Andrew Tan

      Warner Music Taiwan

      3/5 stars

Taken as a whole, though, the album relies too much on love ballads.

It could do with more numbers such as the title track, which revs up the tempo in a welcome change of pace.

The dance-tinged Dear Paranoia blossoms into a surprisingly joyous refrain as he declares: "I insist on continuing to sing/Until the end of time."

Tan might wish to note that perseverance is not enough. The choice of songs is crucial as well.

Boon Chan

He might be better known for the radio-friendly Wearing My Rolex, but it's easy to forget that Wiley is one of the pioneers of the distinctively British genre of grime.

    • GRIME

    • [[{"attributes":{},"fields":{}}]]GODFATHER


      CTA Records

      4/5 stars

Eleven albums in, he has come back to claim his title as Godfather of Grime, with a 17-track exposition on his decade-long career. And the original gangster is back with a vengeance.

His motives are made clear on Pattern Up Properly ("When I'm on a mission, I can't let anything stop me/When I'm on a mission, I can't let anyone knock me").

There's no faffing about or experimenting with hip-hop and the like. Grime is often mistakenly termed as an offshoot of hip-hop, but its roots lie in drum and bass, reggae and dancehall. Godfather is pure grime, the best of British.

Whether it's the spitfire rapping of Back With A Banger or reminding the young 'uns that he's a "name brand, I can't afford to hype" on Name Brand, Wiley is at the top of his game.

Even Skepta, the current poster boy of grime, gets a feature on U Were Always, Pt. 2, a much-needed slow jams-type number embedded in the middle of fast-paced tracks. But Wiley shines just as well on his own, on tracks such as Lucid and My Direction.

He has hinted that this is his last album, but with such a successful outing, you get the feeling he won't be able to stay away for too long.

Anjali Raguraman

Welcome to the 1940s and 1950s world of the silver screen when film music all sounded like the piano concertos of Sergei Rachmaninov.


    • [[{"attributes":{},"fields":{}}]]LOVE STORY

      Piano Themes From Cinema's Golden Age

      Valentina Lisitsa, Piano, BBC Concert Orchestra

      Decca 478 9454

      4.5/5 stars

That the composer defected from Bolshevik Russia to live his last days in Beverley Hills seemed like the ultimate irony.

Richard Addinsell's Warsaw Concerto, written for the 1941 British war movie Dangerous Moonlight, was the most famous example of movie music bringing together barnstorming pianism, dramatic gestures and lush Romantic orchestration.

The earliest work in this genre comes from 1940, in Portrait Of Isla from The Case Of The Frightened Lady by Jack Beaver, which is every bit as sentimental. Even Soviet composer Dmitri Shostakovich got into the act with his Assault On Beautiful Gorky from The Unforgettable Year 1919 (1952), which was his characteristic cinematic style.

Included also are Hubert Bath's Cornish Rhapsody (Love Story, 1944), Charles Williams' The Dream Of Olwen (While I Live, 1947) and Nino Rota's The Legend Of The Glass Mountain (The Glass Mountain, 1949) - all sound more familiar than their titles suggest.

The outliers are scores by Richard Rodney Bennett, Carl Davis and Dave Grusin, with contributions from the 1970s and 1980s. Ukrainian- American pianist Valentina Lisitsa is in her element, bringing glamour, romance and virtuosity to this unabashedly enjoyable album.

Chang Tou Liang

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 18, 2017, with the headline 'Hot Tracks'. Subscribe