Tomorrow, xinyao pioneer Liang Wern Fook will release his first album of original material in 24 years, titled I Hear The Sound Of Dawn.
Speaking at a press conference yesterday, Liang, 52, says of the new album: "It's a means of encouraging myself, the local music scene or anyone who makes music. Regardless of what stage you are at, every song, every album is a fresh start."
His last record was 1992's Go East.
I Hear The Sound Of Dawn comes in the wake of a particularly fruitful period in music for the leading light of xinyao or Singaporean songs. In April last year, he held his first solo concert and sold out two nights at The Star Theatre.
The new 15-track disc includes theme songs from recent years as well as older material such as Watching Television, which was a jingle written for Channel 8 in 1999, as well as the Jacky Cheung hit She Came To Listen To My Concert, for which Liang penned the lyrics.
Some of the songs have been performed before, but are now part of a Liang Wern Fook album for the first time, with five tracks being recorded anew. Liang himself sings four songs, with Singapore singers including Tay Kewei, Alfred Sim, Joi Chua and actor Tosh Zhang appearing on other numbers.
Included here is Xin Yao Li Shi Wai Zhuan or Unofficial History Of Xinyao, which was performed in 2012 at a xinyao 30th-anniversary concert at the Esplanade. Liang penned new lyrics for the tune to the popular song Eve Before The History Exam (1987) in a loving and playful tribute to the home-grown Mandarin music movement.
He namechecked personalities and song titles, often linking singers and creators with their best-known hits, including Wong Hong Mok with A Wild Man's Dream and songwriter Chen Jiaming with Moonlight In The City.
A key line in it goes: "The most important person has not been mentioned."
Liang says it has multiple meanings. "Apart from those I mentioned in the song, there are many others who contributed to the movement. It also refers to the listeners who have been supporting xinyao."
Another highlight is Singapore Pie 2.0. This is an update of the track Singapore Pie (1990) with new lyrics taking on developments such as MRT train breakdowns and rising certificate of entitlement (COE) prices. He had performed this version at his concert last year.
The Cultural Medallion recipient says he has not felt the impetus to record a new album all this while and was happy to contribute behind the scenes.
But a spate of invitations and collaborations in recent years, including with pop queen Stefanie Sun and rapper Shigga Shay on the song Simply Love last year, inspired him.
"I didn't want these songs to be spread all over the place. In a way, the album is a record of my creative harvest."
In a promotional video clip for the album, Liang says: "I believe that songs in the fall and winter of one's life will not be any lesser than songs of the spring and summer of one's life." Xinyao and pop music are often associated with youth, but he tells The Straits Times: "If you are passionate about creative work, then regardless of what stage you are at, it will be a focal point of your life."
To commemorate the release of the new album, record label Ocean Butterflies, in collaboration with BookFest, is organising a non-ticketed showcase on Dec 10 at Suntec City. Those who purchase the album will get a chance to win passes for it.
Liang adds: "This is an era when physical things are disappearing - from the homes we have lived in to the schools we attended, buildings have been torn down.
"Maybe CDs will eventually disappear as well, so this is a chance to leave behind a physical souvenir. It's a record of my creative history and also of our nation's stories."
•Liang Wern Fook's I Hear The Sound Of Dawn will be released tomorrow. Those who purchase the album will get a chance to win passes to his album showcase on Dec 10 at Suntec City. Visit www.bookfestsingapore.com for more information.