By Jocelle Koh
Multi-disciplinary Asian-Australian singer-songwriter Yeo returns for his first release of 2019, coming up with R&B infused track ‘Restless’; written especially for all the (Asian) insomniacs out there.
Incorporating his unique sense of dark humour in his trademark lyrical style, the adept musician touches on the topic of racism in a way that doesn’t point fingers, yet hits the nail square on the head.
Referring to a nuanced situation in racial politics; namely the ignorance of westerners and the regret of us as people of colour who fail to respond in a constructive way (or at all, because we’re too shocked), no one pulls off a musical clapback better than Yeo.
The feeling of restlessness that one gets while tossing and turning in bed at night; a head too full of ideas that wedges you in that limbo of physical tiredness and mental agility is one that I am all too familiar with; and Yeo does brilliantly in infusing that unique palette of colours into this track.
Choosing to go with a groovy R&B vibe that starts off strong with grungy keys, soulful guitar licks and some trumpets for good measure, the song hits its stride early on and has us grooving on throughout the entirety of the track.
Starting his vocals off low, Yeo’s unique vocals and lyrics have us hooked from the first sentence, filled with vivid imagery “I smell the blood of white feelings/deep in the crease of my hand“.
The amazing songwriter continues the verse in this low register, gradually moving upwards, kind of like those whispers of thought that come and go as you first lay down to rest; inviting you to pull at those loose threads.
And pull at them this song does; with the melody and lyrics becoming increasingly frenetic and frequent; with gospel-like backing vocals egging your brain into overdrive before pushing into first gear in the full-on funky chorus.
I especially love the lyrics in the second chorus “I need to practice my words/I need to work a lot on my timing too” , as Yeo goes down the thought rabbithole, too far to avoid the clutches of insomnia; rehearsing the should-have, could-have, would-haves of his previous interactions of the day.
But my favourite part is probably the gospel-like bridge, where the singer endearingly sings “I promise I still believe In/A future I’ll never see” and then transitions into improvisations; with backing vocals by the likes of musical greats Mojo Juju and Dru Chen adding to the vibrant frenzy of sound.
Ironically, this is probably not a song I would listen to at night, because it’s just too much of a masterpiece. The song is not just about being restless, it can also very well make you restless; with all its relentless detailing, overactive funkiness and thought-provoking nature.
Well done Yeo, and I kind of hope his insomnia doesn’t go away, because I am loving the moody vibes of all his latest works.
RESTLESS SINGLE LAUNCH
March 30 – OAF Gallery – Sydney with HVNCOQ + Rainbow Chan (DJ)
April 5 – Boney – Melbourne with HVNCOQ + Jade Zoe
Tickets via snackswithyeo.com