Taufik's return

Taufik's return
Taufik Batisah's latest album, Fique, consists of 13 Malay songs, mostly written by him.

SINGAPORE - Has it really been 10 years since the first Singapore Idol shook up the local singing scene?

Yes, it has, and it has also been a decade since the television show turned a then 23-year-old Taufik Batisah into a household name.

The television show itself seems to be dead and buried and it has been six years since Taufik had a full-length release.

But on his latest and fifth album, the kohl-eyed crooner wants you to know that he is still around and, more importantly, still relevant in the local Malay contemporary music scene.

If Singapore Idol entrenched his reputation as a ballad singer, this is the album in which he breaks out of the crooner mould and expands his creative scope.

Comprising 13 Malay tunes, mostly self-written, Fique is not so much Taufik, 32, reinventing himself as it is him taking the best parts of his past and moulding them into one cohesive work.

It is no coincidence that the title of the album is also the moniker he used to go by before his Idol days, when he was part of R&B/hip-hop/pop duo Bona Fide.

Half of the songs here hark back to those days - Racun is a soulful urban tune, a throwback to turn-of-the-millennium R&B, while Jangan Berubah is a quality funk-lite number that brings to mind pre-op Michael Jackson.

#awakkatmane is a club banger, a bouncing hip-hop tune with a sticky refrain. Taufik half-raps and manoeuvres meandering melodies as he cheekily admonishes a possessive and clingy significant other.

He lets loose and has a little fun on Inginkanmu, a bossa nova-inspired song in which Taufik the ladies' man comes to the fore and on Suka Hati, he goes all electronic dance music, Auto-Tuned vocals and all.

The strongest songs are the ones in which he seems to merge the melancholic ballads he is best known for with street-wise, urban touches - Katakan, for instance, has an oriental melody, moving beats and falsetto vocals.

Kenangan Mengusik Jiwa sees Taufik going even further back, and if you are wondering where he got his melancholic streak from, this song written for his late uncle, veteran Malay pop singer A. Ramlie, will give you a clue.

It even features guest vocals from A. Ramlie's former wife, Maria Bachok, a veteran Malay singer in her own right.

The other half of the album is the Taufik many of his fans love - the sentimental ballad singer whose wistful songs seem perfect for Malay television dramas.

In fact, three of the tunes are just that - Menakluk Cinta is taken off Suria and TV3 drama Kasih Berbisik, Ikrar Kasih is from Malaysian television station TV9's Luluhnya Sebuah Ikrar while Hanya Kamu is from upcoming Suria telemovie Demi Adriana.

Six years between albums is a long time, but it looks like the man has been using that time well and has come up with a solid collection of songs.

This article was first published on October 2, 2014.
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