Archive for July, 2003


Tuesday, July 15th, 2003


By Adlin Rosli, KLue

With his recording diary serialised in the Sunday Times, Teo has built quite a hype around this album by sharing every minute detail about this endeavour, how difficult it was to record the erhu for the album, to getting the guitar interplay right with second guitarist Sherry, among many other things. Does ‘Rustic Living For Urbanites’ live up to expectations?

Well, the meticulously chronicled recording process was not in vain, as this is one finely recorded body of work. Teo’s voice is an acquired taste though, as his sandpaper-like vocal chords make him sound like a cross between Bob Dylan and Dave Matthews. His songwriting straddles the ground between those two as well, as he deftly takes listeners through dark dirges like ‘Alive ‘N Free’ and more upbeat fare like ‘Jesselton Tonight’. The album is mostly moody, dark and dreary, but being bummed out doesn’t sound any better than this.


By David Kilpatrick, CDbaby

If Leonard Cohen had fetched up for a while in Indonesia instead of Greece; if Tim Rose had fallen for the folksongs of Mason Williams; if 2003 was really 1973. This is a storybook from a shuttered room, and Pete’s cadences are the familiar guitar progressions of the Anglo-American folk revival – but through the open windows we can hear wonderful threads of sound from the erhu, and in the air Pete’s voice hangs suspended. This is a fusion across time (and a time before Pete’s own) as well as musical space, maybe a little over-comfortable for those of us who were then, if not there. Superb musicianship, a voice Chris Rea would kill for, and enviable production. An album to be listened to in entirety; don’t even try to judge it on single tracks.


By Michael D’Oliveiro, The Star

He may be a relatively new name in the recording industry but the well-travelled Pete Teo has been lurking in the not so quiet musical dens of our capital, whipping up a following with his intensely passionate songwriting and showmanship. With this excellent grounding, Teo bursts out of the scene and into his recording debut with an excellent, nay, brilliant album that sparkles with a Dylan-esque talent that we’re sorely lacking.

In the brimming exuberance of ‘Arms Of Marianne’, we get a glimpse of Teo’s songwriting ability shining though the gentle rocking that recalls an old (unrequited?) love. The short and sweet ‘Budapest’ provides a quiet interlude before Teo launches into ‘Jesselton Tonight’. Itís been garnering airplay as the album’s first single and gets the ears perked up with the curiously disarming Erhu as well as some wonderful percussive playing. In ‘Rhapsody In Blue’, Teo even shows a wonderful playful streak.

The Erhu makes a beautiful return in ‘Marianne Called’ and ‘Blue’. By now, Teoís distinctive voice begins to grow on you endearingly, even sounding uncannily like the sweet whisperings of Bruce Springsteen in his guitar folk element (think E Street Shuffle, Nebraska and Ghost Of Tom Joad), the echoes of which linger right through till the end.

‘Whereíve The Years Gone?’ is a nostalgic ode to an old love that remains his quietest and saddest track yet. ‘The Red House’ is another simmering acoustic number that finally paves the way for the Erhu-led finale ‘Hush Marianne’.

His loving attention to acoustic guitars and the melancholy Erhu renders an easy-listening, folk-tinged album that resonates with Asian layers, evocative vocals and a delightfully original motif in the form of Marianne. At times, however, you just wonder why this album doesn’t quite get into the stride as you’d expect. It’s too much of a lullaby than a celebration of life at times. But make no mistake. These are small chips in a rock-solid oeuvre from one of the premier songwriters to emerge from our local scene. It’s mainly thanks to Teo himself, who pulls it off with customary (you should see him ‘live’) aplomb. And he’s backed up by a troupe of fine collaborators, the brilliant Lewis Pragasam and producer Ronan Chris Murphy not being the only ones.

‘Rustic Living For Urbanites’ is a remarkably quiet debut album. But it unearths a shout of brilliance that should be heard by everyone who appreciates music.