A review written for the Folk & Acoustic Music Exchange
Kevin So has opened for many famous artists like Richie Havens, Jack Hardy, Ellis Paul and Martin Sexton, and it is easy to see why. He earns a degree for encompassing the whole American roots world from the twenties till the nineties. And though I haven't he ard him live I wouldn't miss the chance if I had it.
The problem with Kevin So's second CD is that a recorded CD requires different things than a live show. It is very hard to see anything special and really original in this 75 minutes CD. One moment he is Paul Simon, the other he is Chris Smither, then R.E.M., Stephen Stills or Tom Waits, then Little Feat or many American bands of the seventies, and so on. He's got a strong voice, but his songs are not up to the task. The main shortcoming is his lyrics which talk mostly about teenage love in a way that's been do ne many times before in the pop world:
|You say you're lonely well I'm lonely too |
You say you want me well I want you too
The situation the simple plan
you'll be the woman I'll be the man.
It was once expected that singer-songwriters, or at least the best of them, brought with them an experience of life and a new and original point of view to what they see. Kevin is the first Asian-American (Chinese?) singer-songwriter I have listened to, but none of his family roots seems to get into his songs; however, there is one song sung in Spanish and English (that reminded me of James McMurthy).
Individual is more like the cassettes of yore that were made by singer-songwriters to promote themselves to club owners, and to sell in shows. So is convincing in this part of the task. I think many club owners will find him interesting and will invite him to perform.
It will sure be an interesting CD to look back on and listen to in a few years when Kevin finds his voice. For the moment he is a singer-songwriter waiting to happen.
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Edited by: Paula Gregorowicz