Rustic Living for Urbanites[CD]
~ Pete Teo
In the years since he first won critical praise for his work in the Hong Kong based duo Mid Century, Pete Teo has spent time as a session musician, film scorer, and much-talked about solo artist. His live shows in Malaysia and Japan have earned him a rabid cult following, and much critical praise. In 2003, he garnered rave reviews for the release of "Rustic Living For Urbanites," a classy collection of intelligent, evocative songs that explores themes both universal and obscure. Now, music lovers in the rest of the world can finally hear the sensitive songwriter-storyteller's music for themselves. Teo's natural talents provide him the ability to provide the many important ingredients needed in a solid album: sweet melody, delicate singing, imaginative song structure, and evocative lyrics. These elements, combined with a warm, live sound, help make "Rustic Living For Urbanites" a truly enjoyable listening experience. Above all else, Teo excels in crafting tales, drawing the listener into a world crafted out of words and melodies that feel more like an aural movie than just a musical piece. The music is uncluttered, having space to dance around the air and waft towards the listener - thanks in large part to having been recorded on vintage analogue equipment. The digital manipulation so often employed in today's music is nowhere to be found here. Armed with six year's worth of quality songs (all loosely tied around the recurring themes of love, loss, living, and letting go), Teo gathered a formidable group of musicians, and the resulting work is a very mature, sophisticated album. Many of the musicians and engineers donated their services because they believed in this project, and the result is telling. Listeners will appreciate the album's charms from the opening moments of "Arms of Marianne," with it's brisk guitar figures, droning harmonium backing, and Teo's almost scat-style approach to singing. The simple love-story plot is elevated by Teo's poetic lyrics, with elegant lines like "We'll be afraid, and even hesitate / But we'll talk all night and sleep all day / And then we'll kiss and touch like lovers, won't we Marianne?" Teo's way with words, indeed, is one of the strongest appeals of "Rustic Living For Urbanites". Printed in the liner notes, the lyrics stand by themselves as little conversational vignettes - and when set to Teo's delicate music, the words are given a potent backdrop. A fine example is on "Alive N' Free," where the gentle sounds of a mournful acoustic guitar slowly envelope Teo as he sings "Some days, I don't remember what it's like to be alive and free." And then there is the plaintive "Marianne Called", which features the erhu, sparingly used electric piano, and Teo's warm, soulful voice singing about all that might have been, and wondering whether paths not chosen would have been worthwhile: "Sometimes I wished I had caught that train and set free the cage around my heart"... This is an intense body of work - and executed with sure-footedness more often found in the best works of old masters. It not only explains why the album was nominated for so many awards in Malaysia, but also why Teo is one of the most exciting artists in the world today. -- Rainmaker Publicity. Boston USA --.
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