Murdasol starts off the week with a bang, thanks to her review of Kevin So’s A Brighter Day.

Kevin So, A Brighter Day (2007), R&B

Coming out of the Boston music scene, Kevin So comes out with A Brighter Day from his new home New York, one of several albums from a musical career that has spanned nearly 15 years.

I surmise Kevin So really likes New York. Really really. I mean he has the song called “New York” and it’s about living there, and lots of his songs and his singing style have this Broadway vibe to it. Now I just joined this excellent Facebook group called “I feel relatively Neutral about New York”, aka, I : I NY. Thus and only thus this artist’s enthusiasm about New York just fills me with, with, such, such…indifference. Gah!

Listening to this album, filled with upbeat, gospel Broadway-bluesy piano songs, makes me feel like I’m happily traipsing through the streets of New York with the glare of the morning sun in my eyes, stopping here and there to do a jump spin with my arms open wide in revelatory ecstasy. Kind of exactly like in his video “A Brighter Day”.

He sings about following his dreams, his unwillingness to settle down, and his frustration with the system. His lyrics can at times run predictable. I was able to finish his verses in my head even before I heard him sing them in “New York City”:

Can’t you see it’s one big lie

If you’re not reaching for the open sky

There’s a crowd of people

Just waiting to hear the song

However, I like the sincerity in many of his lyrics, like in “Good Time to Say Goodbye” he speaks to someone (his father?) who had passed on. I can easily empathize with his dealing with loss and other things and not wanting to settle down. With “The New Sensation AKA Sexy Asian Man” I was like “Hell yeah!” I’m glad he brings up the pride in being an Asian man, a sentiment that is so seldom expressed.

The discontent, of his raspy voice paired with electric guitar of “System” could have totally been in Rent. Seriously I really think he likes New York. And holy crap, “Once called Glory” I swear makes me think Neil Diamond. Does he know this? I really want to find if there’s a specific ND song like this. Someday.

“Karoline” and “Love Suite # 239” have to be my favorites. “Karoline” sounds like you stepped into a band having an excellent jam session, the piano and bass rocking out, R& B style. It ends far too soon, at 5 minutes. “Love Suite” is like several songs in one, and they’re all pretty sweet, lots of soul. At his best Kevin So is smooth. At all times the instrumentals are amazing, but I don’t find all his music outstanding. Not so enthusiastic about the Broadway stuff. His voice is all right, at times it comes off, I daresay nasal. I would love to have heard more of the stuff like “Love Suite” and Karoline”with the R&B and soul, and maybe a little less of the Broadway stuff. Okay, well I guess you can credit my dislike of his use of Broadway to my steaming neutrality for New York. But let me tell you, where Kevin So does well in A Brighter Day, he does really well.

marisol lazaro