Gary Chao, Back on Form

Have you heard Gary Cao Ge’s latest album yet? This lad from Sabah packs a velvet voice coupled with explosive vocals that propels him to a level at par, or even better with any international artiste, in my opinion. Already achieved international stardom in major Chinese markets like Taiwan, Hong Kong, Singapore and of course Malaysia, Gary keeps his super streak going with his latest effort, ‘Supermarket’ (previous albums were titled ‘Superman’ and ‘Super Sunshine’). To be honest, even though those ‘super’ albums were not so super, I was really looking forward to his latest album as always. His first breakthrough album ‘Blue’ remain as one of my all-time favorite album and it has and forever will be in the ‘loop’ mode on my iPod for many years already, and for many years still to come.

Now, his recently launched and his latest effort titled ‘Supermarket’, is a tremendous return to form. While his previous 2 albums were more playful and somewhat failed to serve as a convincing follow-up to his fantastic ‘Blue’ album, however this time around he returns to what he knows best, and returns to what made him excel, which are ballads. Track after track is easily likeable, and the more you listen to them, the more you tend to admire the depth of his songs. Depth, not just in his lyrics, but also his vocals. He boasts a voice many international artists would be proud to call it their own, and with already 4 albums under his belt, he possesses a collection of songs many artists would be envious, envious not just because they are hits, envious because they are songs that not many can imitate. For another artist to achieve a cacophony of vocals to match Gary is a tremendous challenge, and by achieving such a feat by someone would usually render him a protégé to almost certainly reach super-stardom. And that is why many upcoming artists look up to Gary, to strive to reach his level of talent.

Have a listen to Gary’s latest effort, titled ‘Ji Mo Xian Shan’ from his very latest album. It roughly means lonely man, and even if you don’t understand mandarin, the vocal of Gary mirrors the feeling of solitude and desolation of a person; the isolation simply reaches out and touches you. An amazing song, and an even more amazing vocals, he’s simply the personification of velvet soul.

From all the singers that I listen to, Gary’s the best I’ve ever heard, not just on recorded material but ‘live’ as well. His vocals do not differ much from recorded material, if not at all. Some singers sing brilliantly on CD, but when it come to ‘live’ performances, few can match Gary’s consistency. I was lucky enough to witness a performance of his many years back during a concert held by a major local radio station in Sunway Lagoon. Many singers from abroad were in attendance, so each performer had their limited time on stage. Although Gary sang only a total of 3 songs, he didn’t disappoint and it literally cemented by admiration for him. I never did get to witness a full concert from him before, but when the time comes, I will be there, God willing and finger’s crossing.

And on that note, do you know when I really got to know Gary? This is a true story, honestly. I still remember during his very early days, before when he was a superstar, I was in Sungai Wang and he was promoting his very first album ‘Blue’ at the main concourse area. Sungai Wang was packed as usual with the weekend crowd, but the queue for Gary’s signature was embarrassing compared to the other crowds there busy with better things to do like shopping. It was so bad, I honestly remember Gary literally got off from his chair at the main concourse area and started walking down towards the crowd shuffling past him that didn’t pay much attention to him. He had to get himself among the crowd to promote his CD. I asked my friend on what Gary was saying as he got near to him, and my friend replied that Gary was simply asking people to try out his album. During his early days, he had to literally look for followers. Many years passed, and look at him now. It makes you wonder how one must persevere in times of adversity and only then one can reach, and then appreciate, the times of victory.

And just to share with you, here's one of my all-time favorite Gary Chao song, titled 'Shi Jie Wei Yi De Ni'. Roughly meaning 'You are the only one', it's a simple song but it’s a simple song, but it’s simply about love, love from all walks of life in this world, because there’s always someone for somebody, it’s just a matter of time.

Ballad now, Gary Cao Ge.

From the Corner - A Musical Companion

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