Harry Liu’s voice has a such a beautiful tone and balance between the gentle and the powerful, that this album of original songs entitled Ninth Street is a pleasure to listen to even before you familiarise yourself with the melodies and writing. Once you’re fully involved, the collection showcases a songwriter with a wonderfully thoughtful perspective that intends not merely to entertain but to soothe and to inspire as well.
Weight is the opener, underlining an acoustic rock aura paired with a delicate and memorable riff from the keys, later tinged with the atmospheric addition of a reverb soaked guitar solo – still mellow, still warm and blissfully easy to enjoy. Paper Clouds follows on beautifully, the mood remains, the theme becomes more direct and talks of a particular relationship. The artist’s story telling is consistently very pure and honest, there’s an optimism to the style, and there’s an undeniably loving energy about it all.
Can’t You See continues the ambiance, presenting yet another gorgeous melody and a striking vocal performance. The progression of the verse melody here has a rhythmic and captivating sense of movement to it, reminiscent of some of the first offerings from the likes of Jason Mraz. It’s a welcome return for such intricate story telling with both detail and joy underlined throughout. The title track follows and there’s a reflective mood to the music here. A touch of soul comes through, a dreamlike ambiance enhancing the effect, all in all making you feel right at home as you listen.
Do I Know Me returns the acoustic guitar sound, the rhythm of the playing has an organic warmth that begs for you to hear it performed live. The lyrics are again deeply considerate, notably self aware, and continuously honest. There’s a touch of confusion to the hook and its sentiment, the song’s concept is cleverly represented. Comfort brings yet another sublime acoustic guitar performance, with a slightly melancholy, emotional, slowly descending progression of chords. The lyrics tie in well with the mood of the music and it makes for a realistic midpoint within an album that is otherwise loaded with hopefulness. The title and concept of this song is something that passes on to you as you listen, it’s a comforting, calming piece of music and performance.
Bread And Butter has a beautifully raw energy to it as a live recording. Harry Liu’s voice has a hint of grit to it here, the pace of the delivery is a little higher, and once again the story telling draws your focus continuously. Love Ray (Feat. Wei Yan) brings the energy up a few notches. An indie-rock and funk aura emerges and the style of the lyricism leaves plenty of space within which you can really appreciate this rhythm and swagger. Harry Liu’s voice adapts to the change brilliantly, bringing that soul and passion to the forefront of his performance and meeting the confidence and character of the music flawlessly. The guitar solos during the latter half of this are smoothly satisfying.
Hello Friend reminds you of that signature Harry Liu sound and makes for yet another sublime bit of songwriting and a performance that glows with personality. The singular lyric repeated during the hook creates an instantly memorable moment. Alright follows on with delicacy, calming you again, reminding you to stay positive and optimistic, that things will be OK – that there’s plenty to be grateful for. This song alone has a beautiful energy and depth to it and leads you joyfully into the final track of the collection.
The indie-funk or full band warmth returns to close things down with Riding On A Wave. This song is big, it feels like a classic from yesteryear, reiterating the strength of Harry Liu’s songwriting, his story telling, his musicianship, and of course, his beautiful voice. It’s a strong way to finish and completes the collection in an effective and satisfying manner. Ninth Street is full to the brim with heartfelt songwriting and seemingly effortless musicianship that is a pleasure to listen to. Well worth exploring.