Music + Message = Marvelous
Drive Away Home, first offering from Good Asian Drivers, is a CD that really goes the distance (pardon the obvious pun).
So, as the story goes,
in the Summer of 2008 musician Melissa Li and slam poet Kit Yan hopped in the car and embarked on a 12 week, 30 state tour playing anywhere they could find a place to stand. Billing themselves as the “Good Asian Drivers”, the duo sharpened their chops and collected anecdotal inspiration that led directly to their debut CD, Drive Away Home. Well, folks, if a road trip is all it takes to foster an album like this — I will gladly foot the gas bill for their next foray.
Drive Away Home is the most solid and satisfying initial effort I’ve ever heard. Period. Every element – music, lyrics, poetry, performance – is deftly blended into a powerful whole that is more than equal to the sum of its (fabulous) parts. Proof positive that sometimes two heads are indeed better than one. Not to imply that either artist could not stand on their own — they certainly could (and have) — but this particular coupling seems to bring out the best in both.
It is difficult to compare Good Asian Drivers with anyone else because I can’t think of anyone else who does what they do. And I can’t imagine anyone else doing it as well. Melissa is a gifted composer whose best songs are anthemic fist raisers that start low, shovel the coal and finish like a thundering freight train. Not hard to envision a stadium singalong on some of these choruses. And oh my god can that girl wail! Exclamation point! No less awesome is Kit’s soul-on-fire poetry that is by turns scorching and subtle — always in your face but never down your throat. Thrilling, chilling stuff – intensely personal, endlessly quotable – and applicable to every flavor of the human condition.
So what kind of music is this? Um.. it’s a little hard to describe and impossible to pigeonhole. It’s kinda coffeehouse folkie sometimes, I guess. Other times it’s more Brill Building poppy. Some cuts even remind me a bit of vintage Sonny and Cher (not musically but in terms of interplay between Li and Yan). There is, of course, a strong indie vibe throughout the collection – but occasionally the songs veer quite close to being (gasp!) commercially viable. In fact, with the exception of some lyrical/poetic subject matter and a few scattered “fucks”, these tunes could go on the radio tomorrow. But I would vote against that, because to soften and sanitize this music in any way whatsoever would destroy it. Good Asian Drivers are also Good Asian Thinkers and their message needs to be heard in its intended form.
Will I like this?
Many listeners would probably tell you that this music is not for everybody, and on one level I might agree. But then again…. I think there IS something here for everyone. Approach Drive Away Home with a very open mind (and heart) and you will find much to enjoy. Indeed, this is one road trip well worth taking.
Read about Good Asian Drivers and order your copy of “Drive Away Home” right HERE.