Regular readers of my blog have probably noticed that I don’t write about female artists as often as I should, (partly because they’re much less aggressive than men about asking me to review their music). To remedy this sorry situation, for my latest Fresh New Tracks installment I’m featuring new songs by two very talented women, both of whom have amazing singing voices – Malaysian singer-songwriter Lyia Meta and British singer-songwriter Rachel Modest. Each of their songs approach the subject of love from opposite ends of the spectrum. I’ve written about Lyia numerous times over the past five years, whereas Rachel is new to me.
LYIA META – “Always You”
One of my favorite female vocalists and all-around artists 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 her vibrant, soulful and smoky vocal style resonates strongly with me. Based in Kuala Lumpur, Lyia’s a multi-faceted artist in every sense of the word. 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. A prolific artist, she’s been nominated for, and won, numerous awards around the globe over the years. As if all that weren’t enough, she’s also a highly-accomplished visual artist with several exhibits to her credit. As I mentioned above, I’ve featured her many times on this blog, most recently in February 2022, when I reviewed her EP You Think About Me, featuring five wonderful tracks with a retro R&B feel, fortified with elements of soul, funk and jazz.
Lyia has just dropped her latest single “Always You“, the title track from her forthcoming album Always You, scheduled for release on June 16th. The song was written by Los Angeles-based songwriter Denise Dimin, and co-produced by Lyia and her frequent collaborator, Nashville-based musician and recording engineer Bob McGilpin, who played guitar, bass and drums and also mixed and mastered the track. The luxuriant piano and orchestration were handled by Gene Rabbai. The song was recorded at both McMusicSound in Nashville and Studio A in Rio de Janiero, Brazil, with Lyia’s vocals recorded at Big A Productions in Kuala Lumpur.
It’s a beautiful love song in a style of what would generally be considered “adult contemporary”, with a soothing orchestral arrangement of piano and strings, accompanied by gentle percussion and guitar. Lyia’s smooth, clear vocals sound better than ever here, every bit as comforting as the music as she assures a lover of her undying devotion: “We step as one as we climb the ladder. Yesterday and today, and forever after. We’re always me, and we’re always you. Eternally, that’s what we do. It’s always you.”
Connect with Lyia: Website / Facebook / Twitter / Instagram
Find her music on Spotify / Soundcloud / Apple Music / Amazon
RACHEL MODEST – “Questions”
Rachel Modest is a singer-songwriter who’s been performing music for as long as she can remember. Born and raised in Sheffield, where she grew up singing in her church choir, then studied classical piano in her teens, she’s now based in London. She’s worked with an array of musicians and labels, including serving as lead vocalist for The Bluefoot Project, who released a highly-acclaimed album Brave in 2003. She currently serves as Choir Director for the Wakefield Community Gospel Choir, which she founded, and last year, was a finalist on The Voice UK. She released her first solo singles “I Try” and “Forbidden Love” in 2016, but four years would pass before her next release, “I (Who Have Nothing)”, a terrific cover of the classic song originally recorded by Ben E. King, then later by Shirley Bassey, Tom Jones and Status Quo. She followed in 2022 with “Never Did I Stop Loving You”, and on May 5th, she dropped her latest single “Questions“.
Released via the Numen Records label, “Questions” was co-written and produced by Hamlet Luton. About the song, Rachel explains “So this was all about the acknowledgement of the end of a relationship, but not really knowing how I would cope on my own. But also, whether my ex partner was at all affected by these questions…he wasn’t. So I wrote a song about it. At the end of the song, it’s kind of a resignation to the fact that we needed to separate.”
The song is masterfully arranged, with a wonderful retro vibe that calls to mind some of the great R&B ballads of the 60s and 70s. The orchestration is lush and cinematic, but never overpowers Rachel’s soulful emotive vocals that remind me of equal parts Roberta Flack and Lauryn Hill. With a strong sense of sadness and loss, she passionately laments “We used to quarrel over simple things. But the love I felt for you, no sadness could ever bring. Now it’s over, and we’ll say goodbye. I will never fall in love, it’ll make me cry. So many answers to so many questions. Will we ever know, or should we go?“
And here’s the song on Bandcamp:
Connect with Rachel: Facebook / Twitter / Instagram
Find her music on Spotify / Apple Music / Bandcamp
2 thoughts on “Fresh New Tracks, Vol. 27 – Lyia Meta, Rachel Modest”
Two excellent picks, Jeff. I have a funny feeling you may now also get more review requests from female music artists.
Lyia Meta has a stunning vocal presence. I also like the tune itself. I feel 95% of bands and solo artists I feature are from the U.S. and UK with an occasional “outlier.” It’s nice to see an artist from Malaysia!
I also like Rachel Modest’s song, both vocally and musically. I wonder whether Modest is the best name when you want to make it in the cut-throat music business. I assume it’s Rachel’s real last name.
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Thanks Christian. Maybe so, but I still think male artists are far and away more aggressive about asking me for reviews. Lyia’s a real talent, and I love her voice. I was also struck by Rachel’s voice too. I think her real surname may be Bradley, based on the songwriting credits listed on Bandcamp.
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