Joanna Wang Ruo-lin

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 15 May, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 15 May, 2008, 12:00am

Tomorrow, 8pm, Hitec

Sony BMG has made no bones about marketing its latest starlet as Taiwan's answer to either Norah Jones or Japan's queen of bossa nova, Lisa Ono.

When the company released the debut album of 19-year-old Joanna Wang Ruo-lin in January, Let's Start from Here, a lilting female jazz singer with Greater China appeal was exactly what they were going for.

So far, it's worked.

Her husky alto has become ubiquitous in Taiwan, showing up not only in the more typical media outlets, including variety show performances, commercials and a soap opera theme song, but also finding appeal in more cultured channels, such as Taiwanese Public Television, where a song of hers graced a promo spot. Her CD has also fared well in Hong Kong and the mainland.

Tomorrow night, Wang brings her lazy-tempo melodies to the Hong Kong International Trade and Exhibition Centre's auditorium for a one-night performance.

If you're going by the Norah Jones comparison - and it is the most accurate - you'll know what sort of mood to expect from the music. And to push the comparison a little further, it may be fair to say that both singers are somewhat reluctant pop stars.

Jones, despite her tens of millions of albums sold, has said she doesn't really care about being famous and would be happy enough to change course, even if that meant playing for small audiences again.

Wang has also complained publicly that her first album was too commercial and merely the realisation of 'my father's dream'.

Her father is Wang Zhi-ping, a long-time Taiwan music industry insider who has written and arranged songs during several different eras. These have ranged from early Mando-pop for Sarah Chen Shu-hua to more contemporary modes for indie phenomenon Cheer Chen Qi-zhen.

Wang, who grew up in the US, has said she doesn't like love songs and has little desire to sing them.

She's also said she cares more about what her friends think about her music than her parents. To say the least, she's spirited.

But she also has some way to go before proving what sort of originality she has in mind. For the moment, expect a Chinese Norah Jones, hopefully one with a twist.

1 Trademart Drive, Kowloon Bay, tickets sold out.