Those precious few traces of (spiritual?) jazz on Kelsey Lu’s debut get to shine here. While Onyx Collective give it a definite swing (vibes included!) the strings add a movie-worthy sheen, with ever-talented Lu probably contributing her cello.
The surprise comes in the second half, where it’s like the threads that kept the original tune together slowly untied. Still gentle and trickling like honeydew, but much blurrier. As I predicted, Lu has no problem adapting to both sections. She begins peering above those strings like a true jazz ‘siren’ and turns to warbling in a nearly operatic falsetto by the end.
Chyi Yu [Chinese: 齊豫] is a popular Taiwanese singer. While not far from a celebrity in Taiwan, having many hits and winning awards, she remains an obscurity in Western music circles today.
She found fame through the haunting “Olive Tree“, one of several songs she recorded with the late composer/songwriter Li Tai-Hsiang, known for his scenic orchestral arrangements. She’s considered one of his best proteges and a defining artist of campus folk, a style popular in 70s-80s Taiwan: strings, guitars, piano and flutes became signature sounds. Most of these songs have a mellow backbone, but they present Chyi’s voice in it’s full soaring power.
孀 / Widow
After her work with Tai-Hsiang, Chyi recorded Echo, an album of sung Sanmao poems with a fellow tai-pop singer Michelle Pan. In 1986 she released Stories, the first of many cover albums which took on English-language pop hits to somewhat mixed reception. She wrote the song “Turning” with Suzanne Ciani in 1999 and her last few albums focused on Buddhist mantras. She retired from making music in 2008, but continues to sing at special occasions including recent Sanmao tributes with Michelle. You can read more about her career at the below links.
I’m yet to hear a good chunk of her albums due to their rarity, but here’s some highlights from what I’ve heard so far.