1. Lonely With You
2. Nobody Knows
3. Tell Me
Hong Kong singer-songwriter D.Ho returns with a follow up to his 2012 EP – In & Out & In – with Hues of Blue. A four track EP which continues along the same journey of love, heartbreak and the struggles of being a human in this world.
Opening track Lonely With You is a revealing song dealing with the well-trodden path of being in a relationship yet feeling very much alone. I love this vulnerability and I’m sure much catharsis was exposed here. In terms of songwriting, it’s not the strongest opening for me. The minimal production is smooth and shows some Ghost Stories influence from Coldplay. The guitar licks towards the end are a solid hook but there’s a clash with the vocal. The song’s theme and main lyric is really pushed on us and whilst it’s extremely relatable, there’s no other dimension to be reached here.
Nobody Knows is easily the most mainstream and commercially accessible song on the record. I love the key for D.Ho, vocally he seems very comfortable here. The strings, most prominent early on, are sublime and accentuate the songs mood ideally. From here it feels a tad over produced. Some of the backing vocals don’t quite belong and there’s too much going on instrumentality. Despite this, it’s an absolute quality song. Returning to the opening verse in the outro is a nice move here too; bringing us full circle.
Things take an odd turn on Tell Me. Vocally we’re in a key that doesn’t seem like home. Structurally he’s stepping outside a lot of the confines of traditional songwriting, which is great, push those boundaries – but it just doesn’t work for me. The R&B percussion mixed with the 80s synth and hotel piano are a nice blend, it’s the vocals that don’t fit. I like the production; the near audible whispers add a mysterious quality. Although I can’t quite see how this adds to the overall theme of the song. The hook, instrumentally, vocally or lyrically isn’t clear.
A fitting choice for the closing track, Goodbye is the most well-rounded song on the EP. A clash of musical theatre and what feels like some canto pop influences, with a sprinkling of Lighthouse Family, brings to the fore the emotional difficulties of letting someone go. I love the lyrical make-up of the verses which tee up nicely for the chorus. The half rhyme of ‘hard’ and ‘hearts’ poetically is very interesting. Saying all this D.HO doesn’t hit the heights vocally that he does on Nobody Knows.
D.Ho like all songwriters is digging for gold. The more you dig, the more you recognise the gold from the rocks. But he’s only just getting his hands dirty; if he keeps on digging, he’ll find gold, or maybe even a diamond. Hues in Blue is on iTunes now.
– Simon Donald Jones