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Goodnight Company

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Album Review

On her third album, San Diego-based singer/songwriter Jane Lui mixes a contemporary pop feel with aspects of classical, jazz, and show music in songs that reflect on love and loss. Like such peers as Kate Bush and Tori Amos, she displays a sophisticated musical background that she brings to bear on songs full of emotion, with the elaboration sometimes enhancing, and sometimes detracting from, the meaning. On "Take Me for Now," for example, which boasts half a dozen horns in a jazzy arrangement by Karl Soukup, the music supports the somewhat abrasive, kiss-off lyrics, giving Lui's bitchy tone a jaunty edge. Right afterwards, however, comes what seems to be the unintentionally funny "New Jersey," apparently sung by a woman expecting to reconnect with her lover in that far-off place on the East Coast, so far off that it may seem more a state of mind than a state. "I am ready for New Jersey," she declares, an odd sentiment to be sure, made even odder when a gospel choir joins in to repeat it soulfully. At such a moment, the album can seem overdone, as if the singer/songwriter is more interested in achieving production and arrangement effects than in rendering her songs most effectively. But then, those effects may be intended to cover up the weaknesses of the songs themselves, which could be more sharply written. Lui is actually most effective as a singer, investing her songs with an emotional fervor that puts them across whether or not the compositions or the studio gimmickry fully contribute. [The album was released on CD three months after it appeared digitally, accompanied by a DVD containing a "making of" film (a little longer than the musical content) that illuminated Lui and her producer Aaron Bowen's search for sonic perfection; appropriately, a photograph of Brian Wilson loomed on a wall throughout much of the proceedings.]

Customer Reviews

amazing

her voice is so beautiful. it brings me to tears.
love this album.

we have a winner

jane lui is FANTASTIC. creative, delicate, beautiful, dynamic, expressive, balanced, wonderful.

MTV Iggy says….

Hong Kong-born, US-raised singer-songwriter Jane Lui is back with her self-released third album Goodnight Company and it is as enjoyable as it is unpredictable and challenging.
Jane Lui's third album Goodnight Company Photo: Team Clermont
Lui’s breathy, vulnerable soprano and well-honed command of melody aren’t the kind of thing that one usually thinks of as challenging, but she challenges because she is the kind of musician who never seems to sit still. She’s always moving in the opposite direction from your musical expectations. But listeners willing to abandon their expectations entirely and just follow her lead will be rewarded.

You can get a handle on her mix of eccentric R&B and folk pop fairly quickly on the first and title track “Goodnight Company.” But, once you do, she throws in a Dixieland jazz interlude at the end just to make sure you are paying attention.

The album is a bit like the soundtrack for a half-improvised one-woman show, staged in a barn on a balmy summer evening with the full moon for a spotlight and a sequencer for an orchestra. That is to say, it’s strangely enchanting and oddly hard to forget.

Musical theater is a strong and fertile influence here, but so are country music and jazz. The troubled relationship post mortem “Illusionist Boy” is a genuine back-porch ballad, but it is followed by the equally poignant but decidedly more indoorsy piano torch song “Southern Winds.”

You never quite know what’s coming next, but the abrupt shifts in genre do even out as the album goes on, finally mellowing into the minimal and completely acoustic “Last Rose of Summer.” It’s a perfect and perfectly haunting tune to end on, and a big part of why you may well want to go back to the beginning of Goodnight Company and listen to that first quirky-yet-carefully-crafted track right away.

Goodnight Company

Goodnight Company, Jane Lui
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Customer Ratings