Thursday, January 9, 2014

Album Review: Fiona Sit's "Tenacious"

After ten years in the music industry, Fiona Sit ended 2013 with a bang with her eleventh studio album "Tenacious," her best work yet and a cohesive representation of her maturation into a dominating HK pop princess.

The album opens with "Contagious," which makes use of club beats and dub step influences, which results in an infectious and catchy dance song. Fiona's vocal delivery is cheeky and fun and not ruined by excessive uses of auto tune like Cantopop dance songs typically like to do. It is definitely one of the better dance songs I have heard and a great way to start the album.

"Weekend Pictorial/周末畫報" is one of the best songs of 2013, and easily the best upbeat one. Cantopop songs usually tend to be slow ballads, auto tune doused club songs, or mid tempo, but "Weeknd Pictorial" is simply a fun, catchy, and refreshing pop song that will have you bobbing your head and snapping your fingers to the beat. It is genuinely a fresh breath of air.

"Tenacious" then takes a slower turn with "Zhu Ge Liang/諸葛亮." The song possesses a very romantic yet sorrowful feel, established by Fiona's gentle and emotion-filled vocals. What sets the single apart though is its lovely musical composition, which has a slight blues influence that perfectly brings out the bittersweetness of the lyrics and vocals.

"A Little Clingy/小小癡纏" brings out the youthful and effortlessly cute side of Fiona and is honestly just a sweet, simple, and good hearted song that makes you smile without being too cheesy.

Things become more laid back with the airy "Art Waits/等待的藝術." It is not one of the album's stand outs, but nevertheless an enjoyable track.

"I Say Goodbye/告別我", composed by Fiona's close friend and musical talent Khalil Fong, is a beautiful ballad reminiscent of 90s Cantopop. The composition of the song is simply gorgeous and everything blends together perfectly, which should come as no surprise given the person behind it. Fiona's vocals shine here with her heartfelt yet slightly restrained delivery. The song truly shows Fiona's maturation and sophistication, and the MV is tasteful.

The album makes a miss with "F.Night", which is made tacky with Fiona's narration through out the song. The song seems to try to be a little mysterious and dream-like, but the effort for the most part falls short.

Meanwhile, the hidden gem on the album is Mandarin track "Recovery/復原", which did not do as well on charts as the other singles. Fiona wrote the lyrics for the song following the death of her beloved cat, who helped her get through her previous depression. I have mixed feelings for the English introduction, which gives off the impression that the song's tone is very dramatic and solemn when it is light and bittersweet, but the rest is in a word, lovely. Mandarin was very appropriate for the song. The light R&B beats and her vocals matched together beautifully with the melody. She looks absolutely gorgeous in the MV, which makes use of simplistic but artsy shots and dark lighting.

The album closes with "Palace Ruo Mei/宮若梅," a song dedicated to the character Gong Er in the film "The Grandmaster." The song boosts a much more powerful feel with an obvious rock influence. While Fiona delivers much of the album in a gentle and restrained register, she allows herself to belt more here without losing control of her vocals, as if to say she is finally letting loose, which is a very appropriate way to end the album.

Overall, "Tenacious" finds a balance between two sounds and images: the youthful, bubbly, and endearing Fiona and the matured, sophisticated, and more artistic Fiona in the slower songs and ballads.  All the singles released from the album are wonderfully produced and sung, and the only weakness on it is "F.Night." After vastly improving her vocals and music sound in 2012, Fiona successfully finished 2013 as a force to be reckoned with and the new HK pop princess.

Regardless of if you are a fan of Fiona, you have to acknowledge the very far way she has come since her debut and the consistency in the music she has released in the last 2 years. Do give "Tenacious" a listen, even if it is just for the singles, whether you are a Fiona fan or want a reminder that there is still good music being put out in Hong Kong.

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