Basta't Ikaw

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After recording two studio albums and a number of soundtrack songs for Philippine independent Star Records, beginning with 1998's Heart and Soul, Philippine male singing group Jeremiah has released its first album for independent Viva Records, 2002's Basta't Ikaw... (As Long As It's You). Jeremiah began its recording career with five non-musician members and now has four. Basta't Ikaw... is an accomplished effort, and the group has gelled and grown over the years. Where the band's debut album consisted of many melodramatic, over-the-top performances, the group now has a more polished, accessible sound. However, "Sana'y Pangarap Mo Rin" (I Hope It's Your Wish Too) and the title song, "Basta't Ikaw" (As Long as It's You), tread the same melodramatic territory heard before, but songs such as the lovely, Spanish-tinged "Outcage," which contains a beautiful acoustic guitar solo, and the emotive "Your Song," among a host of others, points to a welcome maturity. Many of the vocal arrangements are finely honed, and there is an expressive imagination at work on "Nasaktan Man Ako" (Even If I Was Hurt), where the voices follow one another in various stages. The a cappella rendition of John Denver's "Annie's Song" is also enjoyable and is dipped in street-corner doo wop. Although all 14 songs are ballads, the songs are distinctive enough to make the album palatable.

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