After having revealed two music videos for tracks from his debut album, Taiwanese-American breakout star Anthony Neely finally released the real deal on November 19th. Having high expectations for this album, I delved right in to review the eleven tracks on Lesson One!
1. 第一课 Lesson One [3.8/5]
As the title track of the album, I am a bit disappointed. This song didn’t nearly have the same impact on me as the previously released tracks did. That being said, though, I found it to still be a pretty solid song. The buildup and the chorus were definitely the highlights of this particular track.
2. Sorry That I Loved You [5/5]
It’s not uncommon for Chinese artists to release songs entirely in English, especially in areas like Hong Kong. In this case, it is quite fitting, because Anthony was born and raised in the United States before becoming a star overseas. What is there to say about this song? It’s got great vocals, great lyrics and a great melody. It is easily my favorite track o this album.
3. 末日快乐 Happy Armageddon [5/5]
This song is very much representative of the kind of artist Anthony is: an indie/rock artist. Sure, he can pull off ballads excellently, but a song like this really lets him shine. The chorus is extremely infectious, but, at the same time, doesn’t become stale. The transitions in this song were also flawless.
4. 散场的拥抱 The Last Embrace [5/5]
Okay, so the first track wasn’t all that great, but the three tracks following it sure made up for the lackluster introduction! Like I said earlier, Anthony definitely has the vocals to pull off a ballad, and that is exactly what he does (again) here. This is more of a standard Chinese ballad, and I would say that a song like this puts him on the same playing field as big artists like Jay Chou and Leehom Wang.
5. 不耐烦 Fed Up [4.5/5]
Yay! Another indie rock track! There isn’t a lot to say about this song; it’s a solid track. The only complaint I would have is that I was expecting a stronger ending than the song gave.
6. 幸福事小 The Little Things [3/5]
Don’t get me wrong, I love ballads, but this one just sounded way too generic for me. Every time I listen to this song, it’s like I’m listening to a combination of every mediocre Chinese ballad that I’ve ever heard. Sure, it’s nice to listen to, but it just lacks that something extra that makes an outstanding ballad special!
7. 颤抖 Brawl [3.9/5]
This song had a lot of potential to be a great song, but I don’t think that it lived up to that. The verses dragged on a tad bit too long for me. The chorus starts out great, but I felt like it died off sooner than it should have. After you get through the bulk of the song, however, you’ll find that it all comes together very well in the end. Now if only the rest of the song were like that…
8. 恶梦 Nightmares [2.9/5]
I kind of had mixed feelings about this song. The instrumental by itself is absolutely beautiful, but I just didn’t feel like Anthony’s voice fit well with it. I can appreciate the feel that the song was giving off, but, again, Anthony didn’t pull it off all that well.
9. 绅士 The Gentleman [4/5]
So, at this point, I’m running out of ways to say that a song is “a nice-sounding indie rock track.” It is what it is, and I am totally feeling it.
10. 藏起来 Hide Away [5/5]
There is a certain beauty in simplicity, and this song most definitely embodies that fact. I am a sucker for piano instrumentals, and this is no exception. The song starts out soft and then slowly begins to layer in a cello, which leads into the chorus. Beautiful song.
11. The Blower’s Daughter [5/5]
The final track is a bonus track, and it is Anthony’s cover of Damien Rice’s “The Blower’s Daughter.” This also happens to be the cover that launched Anthony into fame and earned him a record-breaking score on the Chinese television program One Million Star. What can I say? The original was amazing, and this rendition is equally as satisfying. Vocals, instrumental, everything… Spot on.
Final Thoughts: Anthony Neely has got it going for him. Good looks, great voice and a passion for music. This album had some extremely nice tracks, but, on the other hand, it also had some mediocre tracks, as well. I felt like HIM Records was playing it on the safe side for this debut, and I don’t think that that was necessary. In fact, I felt that it deterred him a bit. Well, from what I’ve read, Anthony is getting excellent reception either way, and I look forward to hearing more of him in the future!
If you like what you hear, please support the artist by buying the album!
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