Music picks: Female power: Strong albums from Taiwan's Sandee Chan, Waa Wei, Jia Jia and Rainie Yang

 Album cover of Juvenile A by Sandee Chan.
Album cover of Juvenile A by Sandee Chan.PHOTO: PQPMUSIC

Electro-pop

JUVENILE A

Sandee Chan

PQPMusic

4 stars

Don't worry, indie music stalwart Sandee Chan has not done the unthinkable and dropped an album of kiddy music.

The Taiwanese singer-songwriter is still making intriguing electro-pop on her 12th studio album, which seems to be a wake-up call of sorts. Where Are You Headed? poses a question which is answered in the album closer Be An Extraordinary Ordinary Person. A highlight here is 35, a darkly sinuous track featuring singer-actor Kai Ko on the anxieties of 30-somethings.

An album on adulting.


Pop

DELETE RESET GROW

Rainie Yang

Tree & Skyline Entertainment

3.5 stars

Taiwanese singer Rainie Yang has matured on both the music and personal fronts. She has long ago left behind cutesy pop ditties and also got married this year (2019).

She works with a number of female songwriters here - from Cheer Chen (Celebration Of Oneself bears Chen's distinctive mellowly contemplative stamp) to Peggy Hsu to Sandee Chan to Wei Waa - to explore the idea of personal growth while husband Li Ronghao co-writes the lyrics to Xian Chou (Show Oneself Up).

On the track Delete, she advises: "Don't remain forever cute, for anyone/Don't pretend to be brave, for anyone".


Soul/Pop

I, ME, MINE

Jia Jia

B'in Music International

3.5 stars

Fans of Jia Jia's soulful voice will be thrilled with this extended dose of the Taiwanese singer as the 70-minute album showcases different genres and different sides of her personality.

The retro swing of At Home features Hong Kong-based singer-songwriter Khalil Fong as Jia Jia croons without irony: "Cook for you, half and half/Very ordinary but not bland, simple romanticism." House Party grooves along with Golden Melody Awards' Best New Artist OZI. And the gospel-tinged ballad Wo Xiang Yao De Kuai Le (Me, Night, Train) builds to a satisfying chorus as she declares: "The role I want/Don't want to be at the mercy of anyone's moods/Won't be scared for anyone."


Indie pop

HIDDEN, NOT FORGOTTEN

Waa Wei

Mr. Wing Creative

4 stars

With fairy tales and the hopes and fears of motherhood as inspiration, this is some of the most compelling music from Taiwanese singer-songwriter Waa Wei since her second album Le Herisson (2010).

Tracks like Be There For You and Don't Cry Don't Cry shimmer with maternal love while Panic Attack could be about the overwhelmingness of modern life: "Overly anxious/Where am I, where do I want to go."

Elsewhere, surprises abound.

The sidelined Ophelia takes centre stage in the haunting track of the same name, wresting attention away from prince Hamlet in his namesake play by claiming his famous utterance "To be or not to be".

The wry deprecation of Since I Am No Longer Pretending Myself A Poet That Is Not Sentimental informs a disco synth tune; Hong Kong singer-songwriter Yoyo Sham appears on an incongruously titled ballad about the mystery of attraction, Wednesday Or Happy Hump Day?; and Heaven willy-nilly flits from Minnan to Mandarin to English to Cantonese.

It all comes together beautifully and lingers on the mind.

JJ LIN SANCTUARY 2.0 WORLD TOUR

Home-grown Mandopop star JJ Lin's Sanctuary concerts at the Singapore Indoor Stadium was one of the best shows of last year. It returns for an upsized and upgraded encore which promises new elements, including two extension stages which will bring the singer-songwriter closer to his fans.

WHERE: National Stadium, 1 Stadium Drive MRT: Stadium

WHEN: Dec 21 and 22, 7pm

ADMISSION: $148 to $348 from Sports Hub Tix (go to www.sportshub.com.sg or call 3158-7888)

CLICK HERE TO LISTEN TO ST'S POP VULTURES PODCAST