As I stated in my previous review, so many artists and bands I follow and have previously written about are releasing new music at a dizzying pace, and I’m doing my best to keep up with as much of it as I possibly can. One of my favorites who I always try to make time for is Malaysian singer-songwriter Lyia Meta, an immensely talented, gracious and lovely recording artist with a powerhouse singing voice. I generally prefer female voices in the deeper ranges, and Lyia’s rich, soulful and smoky vocal style fits the bill quite nicely.
Based in Kuala Lumpur, Lyia’s a multi-faceted artist in a literal sense. She can sing just about anything, and in fact, has recorded songs in a wide range of genres including blues, jazz, pop, country, rock and even metal, bringing her international recognition and acclaim. She’s been nominated for, and won, numerous awards, including Best Overall Female Act at the Voice Independent Music Awards (VIMA) in May 2016, the 2018 Josie World Music Artist Award and 2019 Artist of the Year (multi Genre), Best Music Video for her song “Daylight” at the ACCORD CINE FEST in August 2021, and most recently this past October, 2021 Texas Sound International Country Music Awards for Vocalist of the Year and Virtual Entertainer Of The Year. On top of all that, she’s also a highly accomplished visual artist with several exhibits to her credit. You can check out some of her phenomenal work on her WordPress blog. (She even did a wonderful pencil drawing of me in 2019 as a thank you for my support of her and other indie artists’ music, which was a both a tremendous surprise and an honor.)
A prolific artist, Lyia has released three EPs and more than a dozen singles over the past six years, beginning with her debut EP This is Lyia in 2016. I first learned about her in early 2018 when she reached out to me about her fantastic single “Without Walls”, which I instantly loved and wrote a review of. I’ve written about her numerous times since, most recently last April when I reviewed her soulful track “This One’s For You”. (You can also find some of my other reviews under “Related” at the end of this post.)
Her latest release and third EP, You Think About Me, which dropped January 31st, sees Lyia revealing a sassier, more playful side, with five delicious tracks exploring various aspects of romantic love. While she’s written many of her own songs, Lyia also collaborates with other songwriters and musicians from time to time, not only to broaden her own musical horizons, but also to support other songwriters. The songs for You Think About Me were co-written and co-produced by Lyia and Nashville-based musician and producer Bob McGilpin, who also produced and played several instruments on “This One’s For You”. Like a lot of long-distance collaborations these days, the two recorded the EP remotely, with Bob recording the music, as well as engineering, mixing and mastering the tracks, at his studio in Nashville, while Lyia recorded her vocals in Kuala Lumpur.
You Think About Me has a retro R&B feel, with generous helpings of soul, funk and jazz to spice things up. Kicking things off is “Uptown Tonight“, a delightfully upbeat song with an infectious R&B groove, bolstered by a lively blend of exuberant trumpets and jazzy sax. Lyia sings her praises of going out for a night on the town with her man, dressed in their finest clothes and livin’ large, while also expressing gratitude for their good fortune: “I never thought I’d live a life like this. If it’s a dream, don’t wake me up, cause I don’t want to miss going uptown.“
On the soulful “Black High Heels“, Lyia croons of her sexy moves and the spell she casts on her man when she presents in her black high heels: “You can tell by the way I walk, I’m a woman of class and style. I got a swing in my step and a sway in my hip that just drives you wild. You can try but you can’t conceal. Cause I know how to make you feel. Knock you out when I walk out in my black high heels.” I love the song’s sultry groove, with McGilpin’s smooth Wurlitzer, cool sax and funky bass accentuating the torrid vibes. Then there’s Lyia’s sensuous smoky vocals, nicely punctuated by a well-placed sassy little yelp in the final chorus.
“You Think About Me the Way I Think About You” is a sweet, uptempo love song with a bit of an Americana/pop feel, thanks to it’s toe-tapping melody and McGilpin’s pleasing organ riffs. To my ears, it sounds like a song Cher could have sung back in the 70s. The endearing video, filmed in sepia tones, shows Lyia singing to her husband Zack, nicely capturing the lighthearted feel of the song.
Lyia’s powerful vocals really shine on the soulful “A Real Man Can“, where she fervently sings of the things that are most important in a romantic partner, which is a true and meaningful love she can depend upon: “I’ve been told ‘I love you’ more times than just a few. But it doesn’t mean a thing if their heart’s not in it too. I need more than just the words to keep it real. It’s got to come from a deeper place, a place only they can feel. I want the kind of man that puts his woman first. I want the kind of man who holds her when she hurts.” McGilpin’s warm piano and strings, gentle guitar notes and smooth sax create a captivating backdrop for Lyia’s beautiful, emotive vocals.
The EP closes on a high note with the rousing “You Always Come Home to Me“, featuring a catchy head-bopping groove and more of McGilpin’s wonderfully exuberant brass section of trumpet and jazzy sax. Lyia joyfully sings of how badly she misses her man when he’s away, but confident he’ll always be true to her because she keeps him happy in the love department: “But I don’t worry about where you are, or where you might be. Yeah, you always come home to me. Cause I’m not the jealous kind, but I keep my man satisfied.“
You Think About Me is a great little EP that showcases Lyia’s amazing and versatile vocal gifts, as well as Bob McGilpin’s masterful musicianship, arrangement and production skills. Together, they’ve crafted a wonderful collection of songs that make for a fun and enjoyable listen.
Lyia was originally scheduled to attend the Texas Sound International Country Music Awards 2021 event in Jefferson, Texas last October, both to accept her awards and also to promote Malaysia as an ‘attractive destination’ for Americans at two seminars to be given by her and Zack during the music festival. Unfortunately, she was unable to obtain financial support from the Malaysian government to make the trip. The good people of Jefferson raised $5,000 in cash and in-kind contributions, but it wasn’t enough. So, Preston Taylor, Vice President of East Texas Performing Arts Inc, insisted Lyia do a pre-recorded show in Malaysia that would be aired at the event. Here’s a video of their performance: