Child of No Nation

Once in a while, a CD arrives that flips all expectations. From the cover, it seemed as if the debut album from Chinese singer/songwriter Philein would be a simple pop record, an album that would borrow heavily from Western (geographical, not the cowboy genre) Top-40 influences. However, the opening of the CD is a cinematic instrumental with a strong Asian flavor. Definitely not Britney Spears, and thankfully so.

Philein has a cute, little-girl voice that whispers in the dark; she combines innocence and sexuality in a way that many American female singers, who are often more raunchy and erotically aggressive in their tone, cannot. On “For All Eternity,” she almost resembles Dido, minus the English accent. There is a dreamy quality to her vocals and, while her range isn’t that wide, they delight the ears. “For All Eternity” completely veers from the clichés of U.S. commercial radio; its spacey keyboards give Philein’s voice an astral sheen. “Run Into Love” recalls the early ’80s New Wave disco of Tom Tom Club, a group that used to combine ’70s funk with state-of-the-art synthesized disco as well as this.

“Shock Seduce Me” continues the danceable grooves, albeit more on the techno side this time. However, just when you can predict Philein’s next move, she throws a curveball with the title track. Spiced with spare acoustic guitar, “Child of No Nation” explores the loneliness of people who are caught between the cultures and customs of their heritage and those of their adopted countries. It is quite moving, and provides the album with surprising depth.


Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked with *

Cancel reply

Recently on Ink 19...

  • Too Much and Never Enough
    Too Much and Never Enough

    One families indifference and abandonment gave America its greatest failure. Mary Trump explains how.

  • Summerland

    In rural England, a cranky woman bonds with and evacuee boy and uncovers a strange connection to her past.

  • Laurel & Hardy: The Definitive Restorations
    Laurel & Hardy: The Definitive Restorations

    These geniuses of early comedy finally get the presentation they are due in this Blu-ray edition.

  • Four-Letter Words
    Four-Letter Words

    No need to worry about offending delicate sensibilities with this playlist. We’re not talking about profanity, so just take the title at face value.

  • A Genesis In My Bed
    A Genesis In My Bed

    Former Genesis guitarist, Steve Hackett shares his life story in his story in an engaging and honest memoir. Reading his story feels like hanging out with a friend who’s interested in sharing how he felt living these experiences.

  • The Jayhawks
    The Jayhawks

    XOXO (Sham/Thirty Tigers). Review by Jeremy Glazier.

  • 18 to Party
    18 to Party

    When you’re in 8th grade, sneaking into a bar is way cooler than it is when you’re 40.

  • Adam

    A pregnant woman finds a home in Casablanca.

  • 2020 on Fire
    2020 on Fire

    Sound Salvation takes on current events with a playlist addressing the current fight for racial and social justice in America and the battles playing out in the streets in the aftermath of the death of George Floyd.

  • Pokey Lafarge
    Pokey Lafarge

    Rock Bottom Rhapsody (New West Records). Review by Jeremy Glazier.

From the Archives