Friday, April 26, 2013

Casual Fridays: Jane Lui

Music is not a major factor in my life. I can barely squeak out "Hot Cross Buns" on the flute recorder, can't find the e-string on a violin, and, while I can sing on-key with some effort, I shy away from even lowly Karoke.

My musical ear tends to gravitate toward artists that do not rely on auto tuners and technological trickery to make their music (I know, ironic). I pay particular attention to acoustic versions of songs to try and determine the level of talent of a particular singer. A bad live show will also turn me off to an artist.

I have also have scant few independent artists in my CD library - though not for lack of trying. I am a huge supporter of good local musical talent but truly talented independent artists don't stay independent for very long and, by the time I hear of them, they usually have a few CDs in the market.

Which is why I am surprised that such a talent as Jane Lui has not been signed. 

I was introduced to Jane through Geek & Sundry - a YouTube channel I regularly watch several shows on. Felicia Day (Sci-fi queen and head of G&S) and Jane Lui did a duet (above) of a mashup of Maroon 5's "Payphone" and Disney's "Someday My Prince Will Come". Neither of these songs I find particularly interesting.

When I first saw the video, my knee-jerk reaction was "Holy cow, Felicia Day can sing!" Then I remembered she played Penny in Dr. Horrible's Sing Along Blog and was slightly embarrassed.

The real surprise was Jane Lui. Not only did she create much of the real music on the accordion and what I call the "foley music" on various objects but it was immediately apparent that her vocal talent was incredible. I have spent several days listening to her various music and it is simply a delight to my ears.

During the time I spent listening to her various music (mainly YouTube videos) I began to sense that something was missing. At first, I thought it was a beat, but there are plenty of examples where a good beat was present, yet that something was still missing.

Her style is reminiscent of Enya. It is a very understated, yet powerful music that she almost whispers to you. Not every song is that way and certainly I began to gravitate toward certain songs. When that happened, a pattern emerged.

If I was to offer up a single criticism, it would be this: Jane Lui - while amazingly talented - has a well of untapped range and potential that we have yet to see. In certain songs we get to see a glimpse of that (the so called "Immigrant Song" comes immediately to mind), but there is still a pause - a shyness, if you will - that is possibly holding her back. She has talent far beyond that of Mariah Carey, but where Ms. Carey uses her range and takes chances (albeit sometimes with mixed results), Jane Lui seems restrained. 

I look forward to the day when Jane Lui taps the depth of her talent and pushes her range to the limit. Until then, I will follow with great interest and maybe buy a few albums.


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