Tina Kang brings the pain with her latest review of Kevin So’s A Brighter Day.

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

Born and raised in the city of Boston, Kevin So is the son of 1st generation Chinese immigrants. Although this may be your first time hearing of him, So has been part of the music scene for over the past 15 years. His early passion for singing, composing and playing the piano and guitar, have led him to appearances on the show “Big Break,” and later to pursue a degree in Jazz studies at USC. For the last decade and a half So has made numerous appearances in countless cities, and in the process has accumulated an impressive fan base from coast to coast. So currently boasts 7 albums, with his current release, A Brighter Day, marking the 8th album to add to his numerous musical accomplishments.

Kevin So’s album A Brighter Day, is a cool compilation of hip yet sensual tracks. Kevin So’s voice is like nothing I have ever heard from an Asian American artist – his voice is clear and riveting with a hint of dark, smoky sensuality. His voice is some interesting to me in that it possesses the ability to sound beautiful yet at the same time make him sound immature and childish with its raspy sound – very similar to the lead singer of Maroon 5. I guess it works with the uppity-ness of his songs, but I can’t help thinking that his voice sounds un poco awkward, as if it doesn’t mesh well. I feel as if his melodies should be louder and much more intense to accompany the power and intensity of his voice. Am I being too critical? Perhaps – but this is a music review. His songs throw a very cute and up-beat quality to old-school jazz. I can’t say that I like the sound, but I can’t say that I don’t like it either.

I’m kind of on the fence with this one. I’m not a big fan of cutesy music, I’d rather listen to something dark and depressing (editor’s note: you should read her Xanga sometime!, something I can smash my head to, but So is refreshing, and even a little invigorating. So brings out the kid and the idealist in me. I can just picture myself walking through the streets of New York city with my Converse shoes and a plaid blazer and newsboy cap and iPod streaming with Kevin So on play, walking along with a jump in my step and a smile on my face. For the most part So’s album is a feel good compilation of soft beats and jazzy piano playing, although I wasn’t a particular fan of his sound, I will give him props for his poetry-esque lyrics that are thoughtful and passionate. Each of his songs sounds like something from a diary entry, personal in its attention to minute details, and informal story-telling.

In addition, I will applaud So for venturing out and doing his own thing with his music – creating his own sound, apart from the ubiquitous Asian American r&b and hip-hop scene. So is treading new terrain, and hopefully his tracks will allow future hopefuls to venture fearlessly into different realms of music. Until then, I’m going to give Kevin So another chance to win over my love. I’m leaving him on my playlist.

tina kang