Michael Chan

Five Corners

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In 1998, Philippine music artist Michael Chan released his debut album, Five Corners. (Chan is the son of one of the Philippines' most popular and talented singers, Jose Mari Chan.) Though his father is known for a light, easy listening touch, young Chan forges his own path here, and the opening "Feed" rocks out, containing blistering guitar and a tough-edged, melodic sound. Chan plays all instruments except drums and percussion on the album, which includes guitar, bass, piano, organ, and saxophone. Chan composed all 16 of the album's songs, and also produced the album. Five Corners traverses a myriad of musical styles, including rock, metal, bossa nova, balladry, and jazz. "Truth" opens on a blues guitar figure, which segues into a chirpy, almost airy vocal line, which itself segues to a tough-edged, Rolling Stones-like guitar rave-up, replete with rollicking organ. "Scarsdale" opens on sophisticated piano and contains some Tony Bennett-styled crooning, but soon evolves into an all-instrumental jazz workout, featuring evocative solos on guitar, saxophone, bass, and piano. Chan is a fine instrumentalist (though his saxophone playing needs some work), and his sincerity and passion for music is readily evident. Unfortunately, Chan sings in an unpleasant, droning manner, and his range is quite narrow. He strains when reaching for notes beyond his capacity, and often sounds off-key. There's a place for Chan in the music world as a songwriter and instrumentalist, but it's not necessarily as a singer.