Carlson Cheng - Affection

I am just back from Hong Kong, and one of the things I love about that place is its incredibly vibrant, and often rather quirky, music scene. I always head to the big music stores (yes, they still have a few left) and check out what's hot. I am especially enamoured of the whole bossa nova/easy listening genre, which is hugely popular throughout Asia.

So this time I made a new discovery - Carlson Cheng's CD of acoustic renditions of pop music favourites, Affection.

Now, I won't pretend my eye wasn't caught by the stylish design of the cover and by Carlson's rather fetching visage.

There is no doubt that he is an incredible hunk, and if he ever comes to Australia I am getting front row tickets. But fortunately there was a listening station (remember those?) in the store, and so I flicked straight to his laid-back and bossa-nova-ish version of the New Order classic Bizarre Love Triangle. This is a much-covered song, with exemplary versions done by Australian 90s pop group Frente and Hong Kong pop superstar Sandy Lam. But I was instantly taken in by Carlson's heart-melting baritone and frankly adorable accent. I knew I had to buy it straight away.

Affection is a wonderful CD to pop on and do your work to, its warm sounds occasionally drifting the listener into moods of acute nostalgia as you suddenly realise that this charming acoustic guitar-backed tune is a much-loved song of your youth. I keep listening over and over to his Manilow-esque version of Ronan Keating's When You Say Nothing at All with its gorgeous piano accompaniment. And the opening track resurrects Michael Learns to Rock's soaringly camp That's Why (You Go Away), reminding me of Asia's abiding affection for Boy Bands.

Affection is a delightfully idiosyncratic discovery, and tremendously enjoyable. I think you should get a copy. I have become a Carlson fan.


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