Clementine is my Sunshine

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Live review from Underground 103:

Clementine is my Sunshine is the stage name of a very talented solo performer. With just one acoustic guitar, a harmonica and a great singing voice, Clementine creates an impressive and full sound that calls to mind some of the best folk-pop singer-songwriters.

The guitar playing is strummed in a light folky style, often with a Country rhythm. Some songs make use of particularly smooth fingerpicking, which adds a layer of intricacy that contributes another layer of colour to the exquisite performance. The harmonica is light and adds texture, without dominating the sound. Think Neil Young’s Harvest era.

Clementine’s voice is a real stand-out feature. He has a gentle, smooth tone, that has just a hint of a rasp. Perhaps in 20 or 30 years he’ll develop a Tom Waits-esque rawness. I’d be interested to hear that if it does happen. But in the meantime, his voice and delivery are excellent; heartfelt, warm, rising in volume at moments of emotional climax, then falling to a softer aesthetic as the peak fades. His cover of George Harrison’s All Things Must Pass was the perfect showcase for the strength of his singing voice.

He isn’t afraid to add in a discordant bridge or shift the feel or key of a song in its final sections.This experimentation works well, and shows a songwriter enjoying his craft. Lyrically there were some lovely turns of phrase, with “Tangled” a particular high point.

His stage presence during songs was excellent throughout the first five songs or so, and that’s despite the inherently difficult task of playing an acoustic set in a venue such as the Hard Rock where punters are prone to chatting as they eat meals rather than focusing on the music.

Where Clementine could perhaps help himself in this challenging environment is with his between song banter. He endears himself to his audience through a soft and gentle nature. That’s great for an intimate acoustic show. With a crowd that are chatting amongst themselves, some rock n’ roll swagger and some loud confident rhetoric (‘Are you guys having a good time?’ etc) can go a long way to shutting people up and focusing them on the music. And when the music’s this good, it’s worth getting people to listen!

The songwriting on display was of a good standard, with some genuinely touching choruses.

Had things ended after a few songs, I could have reported an excellent set from an exceptionally talented singer. There was however a false start to a song that was then aborted. This could have been covered by saying ‘I’m not feeling that one tonight so I’m going to skip it‘ but instead we were left with the impression that he was struggling to play the song. I guess that dealing better with these types of issues comes with more experience.

The final song utilised an electronic backing track. Perhaps with more rehearsal this could have worked, but his voice lacked confidence here. I admire that he dared to try something new, but the combination of this with the previous false start and the steadily increasing volume of crowd chatter, conspired to create a somewhat anti-climactic ending. Don’t let that put you off seeing this guy in the future though. The overall quality was excellent.

– Stuart Lennon

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Live Review from Underground 82:
To open the show was another promising young talent from these neck of the woods. 18 year old Jon Wu who plays under the moniker ‘Clementine is My Sunshine’ has played opening act to the likes of mega star Avril Lavigne and Swedish (with Argentinian descent) guitar maestro ‘Jose Gonzalez’. Many believe that if the underground HK scene was to have a star, ‘Clementine is My Sunshine’ would be the hottest contender. It’s not hard to see why. Wu’s tunes and set on this night are charmingly pleasant. It’s poppy folk music that is based around Jon’s acoustic and more so his soothing voice. ‘CIMS’ remind me a lot of another local folk pop outfit that go by the name of ‘Joves’. It’s that same kind of rainy day music that makes you feel snug about being indoors. This association rings through that much more clearly with the rain starting to pour outside, hinting that the typhoon is indeed on the way. The other instruments in ‘CIMS’s’ set are an electric guitar and a keyboard. The backing musicians do their job well as you sometimes forget that they are on stage, yet their small but vital parts help to shape and add texture to the sound that is ‘CIMS.’ My favourite moments of the set, are when Jon plays the harmonica for ‘Dylan’ type melodies. At the end of the day, its good music that most people can get into , similar to a puppy. Who doesn’t like puppies come on?
Tim – Hong Kong Independent Music Blog

u68half025.JPGLive review from Underground 68½:

OK when I found out he was only 18, I felt a bit intimidated, this guy has a wonderful grasp of the English language that I still struggle with. With plenty of stage presence and somehow able to keep a crowd of 100 people attentive – a tough thing to do as a solo acoustic act. As one person in the audience remarked “If Bob Dylan had had Clementine’s voice, he would have reached a much wider audience!” You could hear a pin drop during his well-timed pauses. All eyes were on him. He even dedicated a song to him Mom. He proceeded to sell his CDs after his set and no doubt sold out. Even if you think you don’t like acoustic solo acts, this guy will stop you in your tracks. Go Clementine go!
Ashley B

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Live Review from Underground 64:
Setlist:

  • 1. Mong Kok
  • 2. Blackbird (Beatles)
  • 3. On One Spot
  • 4. Moments Fly
  • 5. 13 (Big Star)

Casually dressed in a green tee shirt and a pair of beige shorts, wearing an army cap and white sneakers, you just can’t tell this young looking guy is in fact Jon, one of the ex-members from acoustic indie pop group Natural City! Compared to his previous project, Jon, as Clementine Is My Sunshine, diverges from the mellow, confessional tone, notably in Needing You and Dragonfly, and chooses a more cheerful, delicate path.

Not long after he strums the first few chords of Mong Kok and sings, “The past two weeks we stayed in the same place. And you said, how I wish things would stay the same”, his obedient voice creates a calm and soothing atmosphere on top of his country/folk guitar playing. Together with the harmonica, it just feels like Jason Mraz and Bob Dylan are on stage! No joke!

Nicholas

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