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Kevin So


Kevin So – “The So Must Go On (Live in Concert)”

On this long-awaited live album, singer/songwriter/soul man Kevin So lays it all on the line. From his memories of earlier days and his own musical inspirations (which range from Bob Dylan to Prince) to his ambitions to open the door to other minority performers (So is a proud and active Chinese-American), this album explains where So has come from and where he is headed, both musically and otherwise. Capturing the energy and audience-involving connectivity of his live performances with its extended intermezzo anecdotes to invited (and spontaneous) sing-alongs, the album is true to the real thing right down to the occasional lyrical slip and speaker hum. As for the music- it ranges from the beautiful and introspective opener “Different” to the raucous unnamed outro. Along the way (which is the title of another So song, sadly not included here), So demonstrates his firm hold on such diverse styles as Folk, R&B, Soul, Rock, and the Eastern traditions of his upbringing. Putting music to sage paternal advice (“New Day Begun”), So declares his dedication to his heritage (“Chinatown”), pays tribute to his heroes (“Henry”; “Standing in the Shadows of Ellis Paul”), woos the women (“Hot Tub”) and encourages his fellow travelers to keep on traveling (“Long Train Ride”). And though his warm smile and at times frenetic motion may not be evident on a sound recording, So¹s passion and pride come through loud and clear.

- Matthew S. Robinson
© 2005, M.S. Robinson, ARR



Kevin So – That Oriental Guy
Produced by Kevin So
Mastered by E. Brad Meyer and Neale Eckstein

Bridging the musical gaps between Boston and Chicago and his last album and his next, underrated singer/songwriter star tells it like it is. And there is a lot of “it.” From the gentle textures of “Different,” “Stay With Me Tonight” and the beautifully and contemporarily traditional “Ballad of Amy Xu” to the Steve Brooks-assisted Vaudevillian jaunt of “Walkin’ Down the Avenue” and “Hot Tub” to the South Side Soul of “Times of Confusion” and the Fender-fed raunch of “Porn Star,” So belies his own closing track, the jangly “Nothing’s Changed At All.” Ever politically-minded, So points out the foibles of the industry and the world in “There’s A War Goin’ On” and vents his frustrations epistlemically in “Dear John,” but then cleverly capitulates in “Middle of the Road.” Paying tribute to his heritage with the beautiful biography “Dragon Lady” and “Walter Lee” (another well-delivered political message), So smugly rages against the great walls he has hit in his career in the side-handed tribute “Standing in the Shadow of Ellis Paul.” Though the rest of the album demonstrates ways in which So might escape, his chosen direction is unclear. Such is the problem of a diversely-talented performer.

- Matthew S. Robinson
© 2001, M.S. Robinson, ARR


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