Malaysian born Angela Yoong has had the life altering experience of being touched by God and she has combined that with her innate musical abilities to produce a pair of glorifying songs that are truly captivating. Surrounding herself with a handful of Australia’s finest talent, Yoong’s Making Melodies is a finely crafted and deeply moving EP.
The first track “For You’ve Touched Me” opens with a delicate piano with the suspended cymbal ushering in full instrumentation with an easy serene sense of peace. Yoong has confided that the inspiration for the piece came from feeling God’s presence washing over like an ocean wave and she captures this beautifully both musically and lyrically with the line, “Come Holy Spirit flow over me.” The gorgeous tapestry that weaves this piece together is the sophisticated combination of the gently moving instrumental line balancing underneath the slow, pure melodic vocal line. Joanna Melas is the talented singer Yoong has chosen to interpret her songs and she does a fantastic job. Melas has a clear, pure voice that is deep and rich when she sings low and crystalline throughout the long sustained higher tones. She harmonizes well with herself and accurately captures the emotion of the song in a refreshing unpresumptuous manner.
An instrumental version of the song features Craig Walters playing the lead on saxophone. While he employs a nice tone, the instrument itself seems too brash to create the desired reflective meditative effect. A deeper, earthy sound may have been more appropriate. Halfway through this rendition Stewart Kirwan joins on flugelhorn playing harmony and keeping the melody steady as Walters zips through quick showy scalar passages. With its secular smooth jazz feel this song loses a sense of its spirituality that the vocal version so elegantly resonated.
“Hold Me” has a quiet, more mysterious opening with piano, acoustic guitar and percussion. Melas sneaks in after the instrumental introduction and as before becomes the unassuming centerpiece of the song. Yoong builds up the intensity in this composition utilizing dynamics and vocal layers before the modulating key change towards the end. Coming full circle, the song ends on a quiet note with Melas softly singing in almost a whisper, “Father of Light.”
The instrumental version of this tune is much more credible and gives more validity to the heart of the material. Accomplished musician Phil Tweed has showcased his impressive talents throughout Making Melodies with his percussion and keyboard work but in this piece he also takes over the melody on guitar. Joining him is Dieter Kleeman, and together the two tastefully interpret Yoong’s song with feeling and sincerity.
Also available on the EP are the backing tracks to both songs so singers and instrumentalists alike can try their chops at Yoong’s work to find an interpretation that best touches their soul. The mix, arrangements and musicianship on Making Melodies is first rate throughout and undoubtedly do justice to Yoong’s wonderful words of praise.
Review by Kelly O’Neil
Rating: 5 stars (out of 5)