Along the Way
A review written for the Folk & Acoustic Music Exchange
In the past year or two, the field of up-and-coming singer/songwriters has exploded with many young and talented musicians. The Boston area, in particular, has witnessed a large and expanding acoustic scene. The bottom line is, with so many fine talents out there, it has become difficult to stand out and find a special place for oneself. I am happy to say that Kevin So is among the finest of this younger generation of acoustic artists. He has found a unique sound and niche for himself that makes him truly special.
What makes Kevin So special is not that he has emerged from the very crowded Boston scene, or that he is young and talented. It is that he has taken stock of what he has seen as a Chinese-American, and does not particularly like the view. He expresses both his pride and his discontent with the world around him in a gritty, expressive voice that can rock us with the blues, move us with an anthem, or quiet us with a lullabye. This guy really feels things deeply, and is able to share with his audience the range of emotions his young life has taken him through so far. Kevin So is a very exciting performer.
Along the Way takes us on a journey through So's life. We are introduced to his dad in a couple of monologues (Let Them Play! and Dad II), and to his brother Keith (in Keith). His pride in both his Chinese heritage and his place as an American is movingly expressed in the anthem Just Like You (I'm an American). In this song we learn "my Aunt Wei Fong she's an American/And my uncle Tom he is American, too/But like Michelle Kwan they get looked down upon/Don't look American like me or you."
What is remarkable about Kevin So is the skill and ease with which he plays the blues. Yellow Mama Blues may address the lonesome road, the mama who no longer loves her man and the choices that lay ahead, but in So's capable hands we are transplanted to the heart of the blues. Right Here, Right Now features So's great blues guitar and a voice that wails all the woes and worries of someone way beyond his years. Headin' Down South offers more of the same, with Stephanie Corby adding heady harmony vocals.
This project was recorded on a late summer night, at Cambridge, Massachusetts' famed Club Passim. The live production captures the spontaneity and excitement of Kevin So's talent, and is a perfect introduction to his music. One can't help but say that this guy is going places. Watch for Kevin So. He'll be coming your way soon.
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Edited by David Schultz