Gary Valenciano

One & One

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Gary Valenciano is one of the Philippines' best-known singers, and 2002's One & One shows why, for he has an outstanding, soulful voice, and imparts much emotion into his performances. One also gets a sense of energy, either quiet or upbeat, when hearing his songs. One & One features Gary Valenciano in 11 duets with female singers, and one duet with a rock band. The songs are mostly modern-sounding ballads (in contrast to the easy listening songs so popular here), and there are several spirited songs as well. The excellent songwriting provides a solid foundation: Five songs are remakes of songs by Western composers, including one Spanish-language song, and seven songs are by local composers (one local composer is an American who lives in the Philippines).

Viva Records, which released this album, was able to get a number of singers who are signed to other labels, as well two artists who, judging by the album credits, apparently aren't signed to their labels anymore. Every song is excellent, and the show starts with a soulful ballad "Can We Just Talk Awhile," composed by local singer/songwriter Jose Mari Chan. The song features Gary Valenciano in a stirring, soulful duet with local female artist Kyla, the voices weaving magically in and around each other. One of the album's best songs is "Somewhere, Somehow," composed by David Foster and Amy Grant. Everything is beautiful about this song except the less-than-powerful singing by Sharon Cuneta, who, despite her vocal limitations, is one of the Philippines' most popular singers. The one rock song, "Man I Am," performed with hard rock band Battery, comes as a surprise, but it certainly sounds good, gliding on a fine melody. One & One is an excellent album, although perhaps it would be better if all songs were by local composers. It's almost standard procedure to include Western songs in a Philippine album, as Western music is very popular in the Philippines -- too popular, in fact, to the detriment of local music.

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