Wanderer soaks in all that life has to offer

Singer-songwriter Kowen Ko's second album Songs Of The Bards was three years in the making.
Singer-songwriter Kowen Ko's second album Songs Of The Bards was three years in the making.PHOTO: KOCHIHTANG/FACEBOOK

Taiwanese singer-songwriter Ko-wen 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 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: 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.

  • Singer-songwriter Kowen Ko's second album Songs Of The Bards was three years in the making.

    POP

    SONGS OF THE BARDS

    Kowen Ko

    Mr Wing Creative

    4 stars

That 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 those artists' albums, particularly when he sings in English.

On the acoustic and spare 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.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 20, 2018, with the headline 'Wanderer soaks in all that life has to offer'. Print Edition | Subscribe