EP REVIEW: Fang-I Liu - Confessions (2011)
By: Cyrus Rhodes
"infectious - vulnerable - passionate"
- INDIE MUSIC DIGEST -
Genre: Pop Rock – Power Pop
Sounds Like: Cher, Laura Branigan, Sade
Weakness: Thick Taiwanese accent, Marketability
Taiwanese singer/songwriter Fang-I Liu releases her debut EP entitled Confessions in 2011. Now residing in the Los Angeles this latest effort from Fang-I Liu is produced by Chrostian Klikovits and AJ Oliveria and she is backed up by many accomplished studio players.
The CD gently takes flight with “Stupid Questions” a striking intro piece that serves up tranquil piano melody painted against a grand mosaic of instrumentation combined with an impressive musical build and heartfelt vocal delivery from Fang I-Liu. Track 2 “China Doll” shifts gears a bit with its driving rock rhythm painted against catchy melodic accents and impressive lyrical content from Fang I-Liu. Track 3 “Circle” serves up a dynamic melody with well-placed guitar chops and impressive rhythm section. The production quality is impressive and the musicianship of everyone involved is clearly above the bar. Along the way you will notice lush instrumentation with things like keyboard and piano accents, slamming guitar chops and solos, combined with slamming rhythm section. What I like the most about this band is how well they seem to groove together, testament to hundreds of hours of rehearsal time no doubt. Now turning our attention over to Fang I-Liu - as for her vocal abilities - it works well within the confines of this pop rock catalogue. She has an impressive vibrato and falsetto to boot and I suspect some of her vocal influences are – Sade, Cher, and Laura Branigan just to name a few. She definitely knows how to fill the sonic space with her voice and she also brings to the table everything you would expect from an artist within this genre. She's got a spicy look, infectious persona and strong vocal presence. I would describe Fang-I Liu as infectious, vulnerable, and passionate. This EP from Fang I-Liu delivers 5 compelling tracks all providing an interesting snapshot and thought provoking wisdom with messages that are uplifting, positive and carefree. The EP ends with passionate “Wasted” followed by solitary “Not So Bad” the perfect finale statements for an EP like this.
It’s fair to say some of the vocal performances are laden with Fang I-Liu’s thick Taiwanese accent. Eventually you come to a place where you just roll with it. As a result the subject matter of some of these pieces get lost in translation. Thus the impact of the critical (Singer to Listener) emotional connection is somewhat minimized simply because you can’t understand what she's singing about. At the end of the day the impact of her powerful lyrics misses the mark. I also didn’t recall any vocal harmonies from Fang I Liu either. This would have added more melodic variety to her singular vocal delivery. I fully realize this is a subjective art form but many of the aforementioned issues do affect the CD’s overall marketability.
From start to finish “Confessions” by Fang-I Liu is an impressive collection of music. The music is highly passionate, uplifting and even seductive. The songwriting – an interesting snapshot. All songs are consistent musical experiences, each one possessing a unique personality, flair, & signature groove. Note for note, song for song this catalogue is rock solid and extremely consistent. The writing and playing abilities of Fang I-Liu and her band are rock solid with melodies and harmonies that are well crafted. The lyrical content is packed to the hilt with conventional wisdom. I look forward to hearing the full length CD soon.