JACK & RAI In Stores Now (Self released)
Better late than never surely applies in the case of Jack & Rai’s delayed debut album. Originally slated for September 2007, the album is finally available and hopefully the pent-up anticipation will see the sales go through the roof. The duo certainly deserve it, after all this time!
Jack & Rai have been playing the Singapore pub and club circuit for a while now and they are certainly popular with pub-crawlers here. Whether on their own or with their band EIC, Jack & Rai are adept at entertaining any crowd with their interpretation of top 40 hits, on-stage banter and harmonic rapport.
What is not so well known is that the boys are accomplished songwriters in their own right. Which is showcased on this excellent debut. Review follows…
A smooth pop jazz number about a close encounter of the opposite sex. You can almost feel the class ooze from every note and chord. Sophisticated chord changes tumble and atmospheric synths swirl around what is very elegant tune. Excellent.
The Fa La La Song
The first song I ever heard from Jack & Rai got me hooked instantly with its easy way with melody and harmony. Commercial appeal is obvious and the boys have earmarked it as the first single off the album. Good choice.
One of my all-time favorite Singapore tunes. No contest. Presented here in a power pop fashion which escapes most Singapore bands and features an irresistible chorus which echoes the Everly Brothers AND the Fountains of Wayne. Written from a distance for TV actress Fiona Xie. She should be extremely flattered… Should be played over the radio constantly.
As the title suggests, this is a contemplative ballad which find Rai in this element, utilizing his voice in the high register to good effect. As usual, the melody quotient is strong.
It’s Jack’s turn for the thoughtful ballad as he ruminates about romances and love experience. Not as immediate as the rest of the album though.
This chirpy folk-rock treatise on long-distance relationships via videocam (hence, the title) contains a bright chorus that will have you bopping and singing along.
Ah, the piano ballad. Ambitious and never quite easy to pull off, Rai tries his best to convey the emotional core and by and large succeeds.
A sweet nothing kind of track. Both lyrically and musically. Not that it’s throwaway but it’s so breezy that you might actually be blown away if you get too caught up in the vibe.
Slightly heavier than the rest of the album, Television Affair comes across like Rolling Stones lite and 80s anthemic (think: Bryan Adams, John Cougar Mellancamp) which is a fair stomp live and will no doubt get you toe tapping.
A plea for freedom presented in a sweet atmospheric chorus which references Coldplay, Radiohead and U2. Slightly more alt-rock than the rest of the album but an interesting effort that works.
Prophet of Universal Love
Rai imagines himself as a tongue-in-cheek authority on love with this easy listening paean. An excellent closer for a top notch album.
As it stands, In Stores Now, is an album with tremendous commercial appeal, chock full of wonderful melodies and cool vibes. A bit heavy on the ballads but I’m thinking that Jack and Rai’s target audience will thoroughly enjoy every emotion-tinged moment.
It’s been a long time coming but the wait was definitely worth it.