There is a nice balance of pop sounds and styles in Sarah Cheng-De Winne’s new album. Previously categorized as a jazz-folk-pop singer, this single-minded lady (and her production team) has done a bang-up job in taking different strands of the pop milieu and incorporating the same into her own distinctive soulful pop brand.
With hip-hop/K-Pop ubiquitous strangling the weight of melody and harmony on modern pop music, it’s refreshing to listen to music that is unashamed to properly develop motives and melodic phrases into highly listenable songs that work on a visceral as well as technical level.
Icing on the cake for me is Sarah’s thick, sensual vocals. Her range is impeccable and at times raising the hairs on the back of my necks seems effortless on her part. Kudos are definitely in order. It does not hurt that she is immensely easy on the eye either so she will get your attention one way or another.
But bottom line, it’s the music that will make the biggest impression (as it should). It is particularly satisfying to hear the influence of Carole King, Mariah Carey melded perfectly with the late 90s ‘modern’ piano pop of Coldplay, The Fray and Keane. Significantly, Sarah covers the latter band’s popular “Somewhere We Only Know” with aplomb. The other point to note is that Sarah’s personal convictions come strongly into play, especially on the inspirational “Love-Shape Void”, and her infusion of personality is commendable.
You want highlights? Certainly the soul-pop vibe of “Parallel Lives”, the slowburn version of Fleetwood Mac’s “Dream”, the fragile “Even in the Small Things” and the pleasing “Happy Ever After”. One of the stronger pop albums, you’re likely to hear (in Singapore or otherwise) in 2012.
Brand New is available at iTunes.