Let’s talk about singer-songwriter Eve Ai — the hidden gem of the C-music industry.
Amongst the large slew of Mandopop releases (including Jay Chou, Hebe Tien, and Mayday) this summer is Eve Ai’s third studio album Talk About Eve.
In stark contrast to her previous album Grown Love, which criticized the fallacies of society and humanity, this album seems to be a more soft, mellow, and perhaps nostalgic exploration into music. Simply put — a completely different viewpoint than what listeners were familiar with.
There’s something addictive about the electroacoustic “Say” — something that compels the listener to loop the track on repeat. And no wonder — though beat loops and synthesizers make up the underlying base, it’s ultimately Eve Ai’s unique vocals that make the lighthearted track so enchanting.
For as passionate as the echoes of the electronic effects are, there’s something about the way Eve Ai sings it really does make one feel at ease and long to stay.
The quietly, tentatively played minor notes of the piano and guitar perfectly accompany the purposely subdued vocal delivery that begins “Harmless Loneliness”.
Quiet melancholy aside, however, the track quickly picks up the pace, incorporating drums, bass, and vocal accompaniment as the emotion begins to overflow. Unfortunately, it was rather sloppily taken care of, making the latter part of the track sound quite weak-willed compared to its meticulous start. Eve Ai’s own vocals do their best to maneuver through the arrangement but nearly die in the bridge.
The final lines return to the peace and melancholy that started the track itself — back to square one, as they say.
“The Sum of Us” — a simple, yet beautiful ballad. With just the acoustic guitar and Eve Ai’s comforting voice, the soothing melody is able to speak for itself.
Eve Ai’s lower register especially brings much to the ballad, emphasizing the well-written lyrics — perhaps a poem, perhaps an analysis of love.
(If you’re interested, there is a more mature, “restricted” 18+ MV available on YouTube.)
A country-infused, bohemian-inspired track, “Bad Check” is sung from the rebellious. With just one ticket, where can one go? The lyrics challenge:
Come, the best times
Give me the worst times
Accompanied with whistles and an entourage of country instruments, the arrangement emulates one out there in the wild unknown.
The chorus is purposely stretched out, forcing the listener to endure the entire pain expressed through Eve Ai’s vocal delivery. It’s a severe song, but also one that embodies freedom.
An epic EDM and rock track, “Escape Plan” further hones in on the idea of freedom. Its melody is undeniably a bit similar to Fall Out Boy’s “Centuries”, and also contains the defiant attitude that screams for attention.
Props to Eve Ai’s powerful voice for holding its place amidst the loud and epic arrangement — a rare occurrence in C-pop.
“Lost Piece” isn’t a bad song, but something about the melody seems unsuited for Eve Ai’s lower and more mature-sounding voice. It also sounds, quite strangely, like a cringe-worthy oldie sung by some older aunt. 😂
Quite appropriately, “Take Me To A Sunny Island” is especially bright and sunny in its Hawaiian-sounding arrangement. It’s a teasingly sung song that surprisingly has elements of simple jazz.
Combined with Eve Ai’s soothing vocals, it makes one easily sway along. Just when one starts to relax, though, the song picks the pace, only to dwindle back. As the lyrics tease:
It’s just that I’d hate to part with you
With “Then You Come Along”, the album returns to its more peaceful and loving beginnings. The arrangement is but minimal — just the voice and the piano. The second repetition through, however, an interesting filter (sound effect) of sorts is added — one that blurs the voice and the piano together yet gives an almost warm touch to the track.
Eve Ai’s voice starts off lightly in the lighthearted “Lean On” — initially just some guitar chords. The pace picks up quickly, however, as electronic synthesizers and drum and bass are incorporated into the track. It almost sounds like an anthem of sorts — especially with the whole “Love~” section near the end.
The album’s conclusion, “This Is Love”, is a simple and light ballad. It’s simply content with the way the things turn out, as the melody and arrangement keep repeating and repeating into infinite, and perhaps into the sunset . . .
Ultimately, Talk About Eve presents a story of love — of how two lovers, through various experiences and perhaps escapes, learn to be content with life and appreciate the world around them.
“Say” was the initial passion, “The Sum of Us” a confession, “Bad Check” and “Escape Plan” the rebellion and the experience, “Then You Come Along” a realization, and “This Is Love” the sweet conclusion with the cherry on top. Out of it all, “Harmless Loneliness” stands out as a strange anomaly that fails to fit within the album’s story and message.
I mean, it’s okay if a C-pop album doesn’t include a heart-wrenching ballad. Right? Although considering that “Harmless Loneliness” is the album’s most popular hit, perhaps Eve Ai’s team really needed that extra push. Who knows what they were thinking?
Otherwise, Talk About Eve is a very effectively written and produced studio album. Though Eve Ai’s voice sounded awkward at certain points, it was mostly soothing and endearing.
Still, something about the album hints at lethargy and tiredness — the way a lot of it is purposely stretched out, perhaps? I’m not sure. And who knows how any of this relates to talking about Eve Ai herself?
Recommended Tracks: “Say”, “The Sum of Us”, “Bad Check”, “Escape Plan”, “Then You Come Along”
Overall Rating: 8.3/10