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Novia Review

by David Gonzales

In 1996, Philippine female vocal quartet Novia released its self-titled debut. Much of the album's sound is rooted in dance and R&B, though the pop tune "Mahal Nga Kita" ("I Really Love You") and the easy-listening ballad "Bato Sa Buhangin" ("Rocks in the Sand") do not fit this context. "Puwede Ba" ("Can You Please") opens on a bass-heavy, syncopated backbeat and contains a catchy melody that is sung passionately. The song also features a rap, as do several other songs on the album. "Damdamin" ("Feelings") is a remake of a time-honored, Filipino easy-listening love song, but the easy-listening vocals in this arrangement are set amid an upbeat, R&B/hip-hop context. "Something Always Brings Me Back to You" has a smooth, soulful flavor, and once again rides a bass-heavy backbeat. The singing throughout the album is adequate, though not exceptional, and many of the songs shine via the fine melodies and adventurous arrangements. For example, "Dahan-Dahan Lang" ("Slowly Only") features an exotic, Asian-sounding backdrop, though the song's catchy melody is not Asian but pop-soul oriented.

Several songs on Novia were written and produced by Lino "Boom" Dayupay, also the leader of Kulay (generally acknowledged as the Philippines' premier R&B/hip-hop group of the late 1990s). Despite the fine arrangements and melodies, Novia doesn't completely jell, and may have had better results with different, more accomplished singers.