By Nickie Wang/Manila Standard Today
There are various media we could use to communicate a message and music is one of those. Whether sadness, fear, anger, love, joy or exaltation, music has been a proven way to represent emotions and to trigger emotive responses. However, a message can have diverse impact on people depending on the genre and the level of artistry a musician possesses.
This time, let us have Kim Jongwan, a Korean six-string master, and Ryan Cayabyab and his singers to do the communication.
Another Korean invasion?
Korean drama series dominated primetime television during the previous years, and these series were accompanied by good songs that still captivate people.
Thank The Lord is Kim Jongwan’s first acoustic worship album. For people who have little knowledge on Korean writing, they might feel impassive upon seeing the cover of the album most especially when they try to look at the inside pages. The album and track information are entirely written in Korean language.
Seven out of nine tracks in the album are titled in English while two of them do not have any translation. Nevertheless, it is good to note that these tracks actually sound good that you would even try to find out what they really mean. The first is a soothing tune and the next resounds like a festival of percussions that would really entice the listeners most especially on the final two minutes of the song.
The opening track entitled “Intro” fades in very soft and easy but explodes into a soulful thumping before it fades out. It is followed by infectious “Happy Virus,” a song better played in the morning for it will make your whole day full of positivity. The track pauses right in the middle and comes back with a more playful tapping of the guitar seasoned with some finger snappings.
Kim’s “Amazing Grace” sounds very rousing; the melody creates a certain picture that brings you into a reverie filled with happiness. This level of emotion is furthered by the following track “Above All.” Plucked in a soulful manner, this pop-sounding track culminates with power chords and slows down calm and mellow.
“Lord, I lift Your Name On High” is one of the samples of Kim’s guitar flair. The track starts strong yet it is able to maintain or establish the same energy it initiated. It sounds more of a pop acoustic rather than an acoustic worship song.
Inspired by center of Jesus’ ministry, “Galilee Blues” is a three-and-a-half minute of simple guitar, the chords are mostly the same or repeated creating a certain kind of recall. “Sky, Love, Grace” is a very light arrangement of acoustic sound. This title can recapitulate the message the whole album would like to convey.
Restating that this is an acoustic album and it is not anchored by words weaved in poetic manner, the genius behind the guitar simply illustrates that lyrics is not the only possible way to convey a message and musicians do not usually have to go that far to capture an audience and stir up emotive responses.
Mr. C and his singers
Ryan Cayabyab is the virtuoso behind the successful vocal groups such as Smokey Mountain (a popular band in the ’90s that had James Coronel, Geneva Cruz, Jeffrey Hidalgo, and Tony Lambino as its original members), the 14K (the group that launched Jolina Magdangal’s singing career) and the San Miguel Master Chorale.
This time, Mr. C is back in mentoring seven fresh talents he christened RCS (Ryan Cayabyab Singers).
The RCS has just released a 12-track self-titled debut album that features the voices of its members Anezka Alvarez, Katherine Tiuseco, Kyla Rivera, Irra Cenina, Jaime Barcelon, Poppert Bernadas and Vincent Evangelista.
The album jump-starts with stimulating “Call Me, Call Me.” The lyric may be simple but the vocal is outstanding making it a good opening track to introduce the RCS as vibrant vocal group.
Two Cayabyab originals are featured in the album as revivals. The first is “Hibang Sa Awit” and the other one is “Hello Joe, Goodbye.” The first song showcases the vocal prowess of the male singers in a more sophisticated jazz tempo. Their version of the classic song would sound very well especially when performed in a big venue. On the other hand, “Hello Joe, Goodbye” sounds like a filler song. It is boring to the extent that listeners would be lulled to sleep.
“Ito Na Nga Ang Pag-Ibig” is another song that does not make any appeal. The vocal style is good but not so fitting to the song, making the track better as an instrumental. Just like “Ito Na… Ba’t Di Mo Sinabi” lacks vocal charisma. The lyric has a good humor highlighted at the very last line but still sounds trying hard.
“I’ll Make You Smile Again” promises to put a smile on a person’s face again but nobody would instantaneously smile for something too old- fashioned like this track.
Miserable love song “Paano Na ’To” is brave enough to go away with the traditional rhyming of the lyric, but the thing is, as the album’s longest track, it is plainly uninteresting.
However, there are exceptional tracks in the album that promote the vibrant talents of the RCS and of course of Mr. Cayabyab. Take the papiso-pisong pag-ibig of “Pahamak.” It captures a love story that developed through SMS. The simplicity of the lyrics somehow produced a relevant song that most youngsters could relate.
“Hideaway” is one track to note just like “Let Me Love You Tonight.” Both are sensual love songs furthered by an addictive sound of the piano and perfect vocals.
Finally, “Ayoko Na,” a playful contemporary song that reflects urban landscape focused on the squabble between a woman and her boyfriend who is call center agent. Good thing, Mr. C had this track included in the album for it opens him to a new generation of audience.
Mr. C has proven his panache with all the classic hits he had in the previous years. With RCS, it is difficult to identify their sound. It would be better if they will have a front man who would sing most of the songs when they perform. Although it is a good opportunity for every one of them to showcase their individual talents, but when they always do, they can never create a unique sound that would establish them as a vocal group.