Rising star's shining debut

Eric Chou.

He just turned 20 last month, but you would never guess it from Taiwanese singer-songwriter Eric Chou's accomplished debut disc. The opening title track is a lush ballad which showcases his beautiful voice - soothing, warm and altogether like a pool of comforting sunshine.

While the lyrics suggest youthfulness, they also point to a mature attitude towards love: "Cause you are my love/I'll slowly learn to be brave/Learn to be honest, learn gentleness, learn reliance."

His falsetto is gentle and delicate and used to moving effect on tracks such as The Distance Of Love, a ballad from the idol drama The Way We Were. It was written after he was turned down by a high school classmate. He is not the first teenager to be jilted, but precious few turn that experience into a hit track.

Much of the record comprises ballads and mid-tempo tracks, a wise choice as they give Chou's voice the space to shine.

However, he also flirts with other tempos, pulling off the dance track Shutter In Love and rap on Romance Movie.


    Eric Chou
    Sony Music Entertainment Taiwan
    4/5 stars

The talented newcomer had a hand in crafting all the songs and is equally at home in Mandarin as he is in English. The piano-backed Come Out Your Way is performed in two versions and both languages work.

Chou's musical flair reminds me of another Taiwanese singer- songwriter's excellent debut, Yen-j's Thank You For Your Greatness (2010). The two share similarities in their background. Both were born and raised in Taiwan, spent their formative teen years in the United States and returned home to carve a career in music.

While Yen-j started off with a sound that was heavily influenced by jazz, he has moved towards the mainstream with subsequent releases.

Chou's opening salvo is decidedly commercial and it will be interesting to see how his style evolves. No less an authority than famed producer Jonathan Lee has predicted that Chou would be the next star on the music scene. With his boyish looks, gorgeous pipes and assured songwriting, that seems as sure a bet as anything.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 08, 2015, with the headline 'Rising star's shining debut'. Print Edition | Subscribe