Arts album review

A voice best represented by her native language

Say The Words, Wanting’s second album, is a mixture of songs in Chinese and English that leaves something to be desired

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Cover art of Wanting’s sophomore album, Say the Words.
Courtesy of Nettwerk Productions


Say The Words


Released Oct. 17, 2013

Nettwerk Productions

Headlining March 10 at Brighton Music Hall in Boston

Second languages are hard. Even having a strong grasp of a second language is sometimes insufficient to artfully express oneself. Unfortunately, this is true for Wanting, a Vancouver-based, China-born singer/songwriter. Her songs in Mandarin Chinese are outstanding, but the same cannot be said of her songs written in English.

Wanting’s album Say The Words (released in the U.S. in October) debuted at number 1 in China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Macau, Singapore and Malaysia. Additionally, the album track “When It’s Lonely,” one of three album tracks sung in her native Mandarin, is featured on the Chinese version of The Hunger Games: Catching Fire movie sound track. The popularity of her music in China is warranted: the songs she sings in Chinese are excellent, and when you ignore the lyrics, her English numbers resonate beautifully.

Wanting’s melodies and musicality lend a consistent sound to her songs, both in English and in Chinese. The relatively wide variety of musical styles represented on this album also make it a very fun album to listen to. Wanting covers a range of styles, from jazz-inspired numbers to laid-back hip-hop and even standard pop. Her Chinese lyrics flow artfully (at least from the perspective of a listener not fluent in Mandarin). Consequently, her songs in Mandarin on this new album are first-rate and certainly worth listening to, whether you are fluent in Mandarin or don’t know a word.

Unfortunately, most of her songs in English aren’t as good as her songs in Chinese. While I found that most of them were fun to listen to, provided that I didn’t pay too much attention to the lyrics, the title track sounds bizarre. Some songs seem as though she tried to force lyrical concepts into phrases with the wrong number of syllables. Too many of her English songs became uncomfortable to listen to as a native English speaker.

Ultimately, after listening to Wanting’s album, I was very disappointed. The album had far too few songs that played to her strengths and too many songs in English. That said, the hour or so spent listening to this album was by no means a waste of time ­— many tracks in Chinese were worth 5 stars, and the English songs were decent with only one or two exceptions. Overall, this album is a solid effort, but it still leaves something to be desired.

Vancouver-based, China-born singer/songwriter Wanting is headlining the Brighton Music Hall in Boston on March 10th in support of her sophomore album, Say The Words.