SINGAPORE - Taiwanese singer-songwriter Kowen Ko's debut album was If You Still Wander (2015) and he was deservedly nominated at the Golden Melody Awards for Best Mandarin Male Singer and Best Newcomer.
That peripatetic vibe is still present on his follow-up album, Songs Of The Bards.
The song, The Fear And The Laziness finds him asking: "Can't you see us driving that car/When it's all said and done/Can't you see us cruise in that yacht".
The singer has a set of wonderfully raspy pipes that are a little weathered, but also warm and gentle.
He wanders to soak in all that life has to offer. He has said in an interview: "Creating is the most meaningful thing to me, so when I can't come up with songs, why not go on a holiday and let myself absorb new things."
Three years in the making, his second album sounds richer when it comes to the arrangements and production.
The opener Man Without A Mission is propelled by guitars, drums and a stirring melody as he proclaims: "I'm a man without a mission/Doesn't mean I'm a man without a vision".
There is even a dare here, one cloaked in confidence: "Just fall and fall and fall/See if I'm the one you can't ignore".
Ko won a campus singing competition in 2013 with renditions of British band Coldplay's Fix You and Clocks and is apparently a fan of Irish troubadour Damien Rice which gives you a good idea of his musical influences. He has an ear for minor-key melodies and some of his songs would not be out of place on their albums, particularly when he sings in English.
On the acoustic You Are, he is achingly tender as he sings about a beloved. The ballad is timeless and poignant as he croons on the refrain: "As day comes and day goes by/Sun sets while moon rises/Fire ends smokes arrive/Love springs and love dies/You're gone, so as I".
This is music to fall for.
Watch the official lyric video for You Are at www.youtube.com/watch?v=NJWRlHLAmv0
SONGS OF THE BARDS
4 out of 5 stars