Chinese singer-songwriter Guo Ding is breaking out with his album The Silent Star Stone.
He has six nominations at the prestigious Golden Melody Awards, including for Album of the Year, Best Mandarin Album and Best Mandarin Male Vocalist. The results will be announced on June 24.
This is his third record after his self-titled debut in 2005 and Wei Wei (Slightly) in 2009, but listeners here are unlikely to be familiar with the Hunan-born musician, given his songs have not gotten much airplay here.
Well, better late than never.
His voice is a mesmerising instrument that pulls one in from the get-go.
He has a richly resonant set of pipes with a slight drawl that hints of both intimacy and attitude, one that is magnetic at the lower end of the register and equally persuasive on the higher reaches.
Guo is up for the Best Composer and Best Lyricist gongs with the opening track Qi Mei Di (The Fog Space), which begins with the evocative couplet: "I used to be unsettled river waters/Winding through the forest to enter your heart by mistake." It builds up to an unabashed declaration of love: "Hey, wait till I find you/Probe your gaze/Embrace with no distractions."
THE SILENT STAR STONE
Universal Music Taiwan
This is lush and swoonsome pop, propelled by a pulsing beat and urgency of feeling.
Ballad Shui Xing Ji (Mercury Records) is another standout, with its delicacy of melody and mood and a chorus that tugs at the heartstrings: "How much further before I can enter your heart/How long before I can get close to you."
It is nominated for Best Music Video and the clip puts a sciencefiction spin on the loss of a loved one.
Some influences here are unusual for Mandopop, but Guo makes them all sound natural and cohesive, from the bluesy Luo Di Zhi Qian (Before Hitting The Ground) to the disco-tinged You Shen Me Qi Guai (What's So Strange).
Three years ago, Chinese singer-songwriter Li Ronghao was named Best New Artist at the Golden Melody Awards and he has proven himself to be a major new force in Mandopop.
It looks like he might be getting some company from a fellow countryman very soon.