Singapore music reviews: Tabitha Nauser, Ffion & Gareth Fernandez, Richard Jansen, Shye, Rangga Jones, Micki Jayy, Cinnamon Persimmon, RENE, Parinzoia, Marcus Lee, Celestia and Hidemen

Singapore music reviews: Tabitha Nauser, Ffion & Gareth Fernandez, Richard Jansen, Shye, Rangga Jones, Micki Jayy, Cinnamon Persimmon, RENE, Parinzoia, Marcus Lee, Celestia and Hidemen

Last week, we celebrated the latest songs from the canon of Made In Singapore music to reach the ether. Now, we dig deeper into our national anthems with a critical eye. Read our review of the latest songs by Last week, we celebrated the latest songs from the canon of Made In Singapore music to reach the ether. Now, we dig deeper into our national anthems with a critical eye. Read our review of the latest songs by Tabitha Nauser, Ffion & Gareth Fernandez, Richard Jansen, Shye, Rangga Jones, Micki Jayy, Cinnamon Persimmon, RENE, Parinzoia, Marcus Lee, Celestia and Hidemen.

Tabitha Nauser – ‘warning signs’

This is the last straw of the last chapter of a story whose ending is sealed in the telling of this tale. ‘warning sign’ is the lead single off Tabitha Nauser’s new, independently released EP things I should have said, the triptych of songs by which the Singaporean chanteuse wishes to herald her new beginnings in music, love and life. The scales tip like they never have before in a Tabitha song, to a kind of raw, blood-red honesty that makes the distance between, “You make danger so tempting / I can’t even help myself” and “Didn’t see the warning signs / Till I was out my mind”, feel so utterly personal and resonant.

One other thing: “R&B”-adjacent songs are the most common pickups in the week-to-week Spotify haul. But this one skirts the mind-numbing homogeneity of the vast lot with its compositional sophistication and Tabitha’s urgent, pleading coo. It speaks to the rumblings of the heart when bottled-up pain is finally unleashed.

GARETH FERNANDEZ and Ffion – ‘Can’t Call It Xmas’

This should happen more often: The marriage between Ffion’s hushed, smoke-filtered voice that emanates earthiness and ethereality and GARETH’s winsome, dashingly warm imprint. On this pair-up, the twinned forces serve up a Christmas song with a twist, one without the happy ending of your garden variety 'Jingle Bells' standards.

But ‘Can’t Call it Xmas’ isn’t anti-Christmas in spirit. What it does so well is affirm how alienating and lonely the advertised festive season can feel when you’re not with the one you love. Juxtaposing familiar and time-honoured Christmas signifiers such as jingling bells, with the cut-to-the-heart lament, “Can’t call it Xmas / When I’m here all alone”, the voices engage in a call-and-response that is sweet and devastating. There’s something about hearing both these lovely voices utter the words “I’d really wish you’d stay” over perfect sweater-weather production, that strikes a raw, real nerve during a time of so much enforced good cheer.

Richard Jansen – ‘Day 1’

‘Day 1’ is more proof that Richard Jansen knows how to make a love song feel cliche-free. 

It’s as if he deliberately challenges himself to transcend the form by inflecting its long-established and very fortified conventions in his own voice, in his own way. Like all love songs, ‘Day 1’’s thesis is: ‘Baby, you my day one / Ain’t no body that I want”. But it’s fleshed out over a flickering candle of a beat that hews more to emo trap than to torch-song R&B. Its hooks easily embed themselves in your neural grooves – sparkling keys, and elastic synth squiggles are foremost in the going. Then there’s his water-soluble Auto-Tuned voice, which morphs into different phases of expression every few lines, padding the runtime of the song with memorable moments throughout – all under three minutes.

His day one is a powerful muse, truly.

Cinnamon Persimmon – ‘Be Your Animal’

Primal, urgent, definitive and with the instantly quote-worthy refrain, “I don’t wanna do this anymore / Don’t wanna be your animal / Just wanna leave you sore”, ‘Be Your Animal’ has become one of my favourite songs from the recent Singaporean canon. 

They rarely make ‘em like this these days: In the nuclear arms race to see who has the most vibey R&B-adjacent tune, actual danger, sexiness and soul have been sacrificed. But CP have found an intoxicating combination in frontwoman Laura’s supple, alluring voice and her superlatively nimble and effective band, that translates disparate words and sounds into an irresistible, kinetic, declarative and sumptuously funky I’ve-had-enough-of-you salvo – into a breakup song with actual punch.

Hidemen – ‘Spring’

“I just wanna know what you been thinking / I just wanna know how you been feeling” – loving from afar is never easy. Not even the beauty of spring can mitigate the distance between two estranged hearts. Hidemen know how to furnish the perfect, terminally chill atmosphere for reflection. A cosmic groove serves as the heartbeat of this lush, pastel-hued universe, full of runaway twinkles and sparkling accents. But there is trouble in paradise. And amidst all this panoramic beauty, a river of tears flows.

Rangga Jones – ‘Poisonous Love’

Rangga Jones is on a roll. With his sixth release of 2019, Rangga Jones has solidified his spot as one of the best local artists of the year. It’s one thing to put out a lot of material, but it’s another to have all of them be exceptional. ‘Poisonous Love’ continues in that vein. With a Frank Ocean-esque performance in tow, Jones is quickly becoming a key player in the Singaporean music scene, this track wholly confirms that. Rangga Jones knows to let his strongest asset – his breathtaking voice – do all the heavy lifting. That’s not to say the instrumentation isn’t great, because it’s downright superb. The combination of both is what makes 'Poisonous Love' so exquisitely relatable.

Shye – ‘Impatient’

If there’s one thing that’s showcased with this track, it’s Shye’s growth as a musician. Easily Shye’s most fun song to date, the track is unlike anything we’ve really heard from the young bedroom pop princess. It’s experimental, and features a lot more instrumentation, produced and arranged by the starlet herself. While her earlier work is a good reflection of what she brings to the table, this would be a welcome change in direction for her as she grows older, and experiences more of what life has to offer. This musical style seems like a great fit for Shye, and we sincerely hope we get to hear more from her soon.

Micki Jayy – ‘Not the Same’ (Short Version)

Micki Jayy doesn’t quite get the recognition she deserves. In a sea of generic pop, Micki Jayy’s R&B sound stands out as a refreshing alternative. For her latest offering, Micki Jayy has given us a teaser of ‘Not The Same’. While it isn’t the complete version of the track, it does an incredible job of building up the anticipation for the full track’s eventual release. It’s short, it’s to the point, and it leaves you wanting more. Clocking in at under two minutes, the track dives right in and captures your attention, thanks to Micki Jayy’s vocal performance, and the bass-heavy production. We sincerely hope we get a full version of the track soon, because we need more.

Parinzoia – ‘Jason Vorhees’

Parinzoia’s debut EP, Real Personal, is an incredibly befitting name for a project as near and dear to a musician. ‘Jason Vorhees’, the longest cut off the four-track EP, zeros in on just how personal she gets on the project. It’s stripped down: Parinzoia exposed

The production on ‘Jason Vorhees’ is astounding. It’s simple, but perfectly encapsulates just how heavy the topic at hand is. Parinzoia’s lyrics cut deep, and demand to be felt. This isn’t particularly an easy listen, because it has the ability to hit you where it hurts, but it makes certain that when you’re done listening to the track, you’re left feeling something.

RENE – ‘Eyes Wide Open’

Emo pop-rock that embeds itself in the substratum of heartbreak will always be relevant and affecting. The universality of the genre and its heart-on-sleeve messages is compelling, but most poignantly, what bestows it its enduring appeal is the call to the soul. Reminiscent of the likes of early ‘00s pop chanteuses Kelly Clarkson and Avril Lavigne, RENE delivers something wholly personal and introspective with ‘Eyes Wide Open’.

One does not have to search too hard to experience the vulnerability and sensitivity in RENE’s voice. Aided by the filled-out musical core of hard-hitting kicks, punchy electric guitar and warm, tertian harmonies iconic in contemporary pop, the grandeur in sound gradually unfurls and, yet, does nothing to diminish the poignancy and intricacies of her poetics.

In this shared, cathartic space, she vocalises the devastation of heartache and then gathers strength towards acceptance. By the end of it, the listener heals with her and takes the first step towards rebirth.

Marcus Lee – ‘My Confession 这是我的表白’

When the manifestation of modern-day romance is dominated by extravagant gestures, it’s easy to forget the purity of love. Marcus Lee reminds us of that obvious-yet-often overlooked truth with his debut single.

Dripping with potent, syrupy romance, ’My Confession’ bestows a heart-on-sleeve profession that is unapologetically sparkling and saccharine sweet. Occupying the sweet spot in the serenading lexicon of Mandopop, he plainly declares his affection, with his husky vocals soaring above the effervescent, trumpet-driven sonic bedrock. As he waxes lyrical about his unadulterated adoration, he uninhibitedly paints a heart-fluttering image that is reminiscent of first love, chaste and innocent.

Celestia – ‘Consequences’

Bossa nova exists to transport the soul to a quaint, quiet plane wholly detached from the vapidity of reality. With its roots embedded in the fervent celebration of romance and dedication to sensuality, it continues to mesmerise with its hushed intimacy and swaying resplendence today.

In ‘Consequences’, Celestia delivers a whimsicality that inadvertently transposes us into a gauzy reverie. Built on propulsive rhythm and silky, interweaving piano melodies, this track smoothly seduces one into its groove, aided by shimmering, airy vocals that fall in line with the undercurrent of weightlessness. Recklessly and helplessly sinking into a romance that beckons, she frolics with abandon and intentional blindness, for falling is the only truth that remains.