'Mermaid' Album Review by The Music
27 February, 2013
Mermaids are the mythical, transcendent creatures that have captivated the human imagination for centuries. We are drawn to the idea of their existence because of the mysterious, magical and ambient quality that surrounds them, and thus, Jade Diary aka Cheryl Lim’s latest release Mermaid is so aptly named.
Lim matches her melodic tones and emotionally rich lyrics with some fantasy-inspired synth to produce a debut album with a dream-like quality that’s second-to-none. Introducing us to her work, Lim pulls you in with opening track Mermaid, which, funnily enough, familiarises us with the idea of the mermaid’s beauty, while simultaneously allowing us to explore every gorgeous facet of Lim’s melodic and haunting vocals.
An album with more highs than lows, each track has a different selling point – whether it is the lyrics in Cold Hearted that Lim passionately sings, “Your scent it lingers and it steals away my sanity.../Blinded by beauty and seduced by my vanity”, the perfect match of synth and percussion in A Thousand Days, or the soaring, lingering vocals in Lucid Dreams, each song wraps itself around your eardrums and tugs until it has engulfed your whole body.
The album is an exploration of various sincere, well-articulated emotions, without sounding whiny and repetitive. Like the swift, yet graceful movement of a mermaid, this album flows flawlessly through a saturated music scene, leaving you in bewilderment of what you have just experienced. It’s hard to fault this album. Jade Diary’s debut is something Perth, and Australia, should be proud of.
Album Review by Alicia Bee, November 2012
JADE DIARY : MERMAID
She sings for herself, a female archetype of fairytales and mythical themes, like many other women that have sung before. This is the songwriters dream of little girls around the world, who open up their big book of poetry and hang their long hair from their fortress of song on a folk stage.
Females like Cheryl Lim, whose stage name is Jade Diary, continually ask the audience to follow their song like the sailors who hear the sirens singing from the rocks. Cheryl Lim’s voice has enough to carry on the wind, with its simple melodies, interesting lyrics and playful dance. Mermaid is the debut venture of Perth based Jade Diary, recorded in Sydney and sent down to Melbourne for review. She took a plane as far as Vegas to roll the dice and sing on the world stage. Songs like ‘World In Your Hands’ that celebrate the happiness of her first taste of success and include musical excursions into The Cure in verse structure. ‘The Sweetest Song’ clearly celebrates her first guitar influences like The Beatles, but sometimes its okay to thank those that are hanging around too long in your hallway.
Lyrically driven, vocally talented Jade Diary could fit alongside new folk if she wasn’t so inspired by pop leanings.
If you liked the songs of Melanie Horsnell, Danielle Spencer, or Martha Tilston, Jade Diary might just be your next Mermaid.
Album Review: Mermaid, November 2012
Lim simply has a beautiful voice. It is pure, melodic and compelling. It doesn’t really matter sometimes what Lim is singing because she’s such a pleasure to listen to. Her voice is a thing of beauty, all on its own.
One of the more unlikely subjects for Lim to sing about is Las Vegas. And yet, here Lim is singing about Sin City with “Welcome to Vegas.” “I am trapped in this paradise tonight,” Lim sings, like an angel stuck in the mortal realm. She’s both fascinated and appalled by what she sees and experiences. Sonically, this is one of the more beat-driven tracks on the album. It features prominent drumming and a more standard melodic structure, rather than the more ethereal sounds that fill out most of the rest of the album.
“Lucid Dreams” is a much quieter song, which finds Lim vocalizing over hushed electric guitar picking. The song title would also make for an appropriate album title, as many of these songs also have a dream-like quality. Lim is like a singing voice in your dreams. She comes off a little like the good witch in Wizard of Oz, there to help, not hurt; one that speaks about what is good, rather than plotting evil.
The track “Cold Hearted” stands out from the pack due to its percussive groove. It is similar in some ways to early Eurythmics music, in that it matches a high quality singing voice, with tightly recorded dance-rock groove. “You are a cold hearted man/And you’ve got blood on your hands,” Lim sings. This is apparently a man that has let her down and broken her heart. He’s committed a crime, the crime of breaking a heart, and left her “alone in the dark.” The way this track’s drum part is so upfront in the mix brings to mind Kate Bush’s old song, “Running up That Hill.”
On the opposite side of the spectrum, there is “Sweetest Song.” Unlike the jerk in “Cold Hearted,” this man walks into Lim’s life like a living and breathing sugary melody. Instead of behaving like a detective, accusing a criminal of his crime, Lim is allowed to extol the virtues of this man in her life. She sings these words over a light, acoustic instrumental arrangement, which features piano and guitars. The way she scat sings – like an angel, rather than a jazz singer – at track’s end, is simply beautiful to behold.
Even when singing over a simple electric piano backing, as Lim does during “Rivers,” she sounds wonderful. “I’m learning to be grateful in the dark,” she sings with a tone of thankfulness. It’s a simple little song, but when sung by Lim, it is unusually powerful. It seems as though this ‘learning to be grateful in the dark,’ speaks of finding contentment, even when the future may be up in the air. It’s a lovely song, which could be sung to a lover or even God.
Jade Diary is an act that should rightfully find a place at festivals such as Coachella because Cheryl Lim is the kind of singer/songwriter that will eventually find a pace in the hearts of truly discerning music fans. It’s not often you get a chance to catch a future star before they’ve made it big, but if you purchase Mermaid by Jade Diary, you’ll more than likely have the future opportunity to say you knew this music before it was hip and popular.
Artist: Jade Diary
Review By: Dan MacIntosh, Music Reviewer
Rating: 4 Stars (out of 5)
The Sonic Reverie EP Review, April 2012
Climbing the first rung of the ladder, 'Landscape of Dreams' brought Jade Diary to quite a few people's attentions as the project successfully crowdfunded the money for a second EP to be recorded. Tipping a few years away in raising and recording, it will all undoubtedly seem worthwhile when 'Love Thy Will Be Done', the result of the hard work, is given it's release in June.
Fans of Lady Antebellum and Taylor Swift's charismatic take on country inspired pop should enjoy this collection of jangly, uplifting tracks, particularly the summery young love anthem,'Sublime'. Unsurprisingly, the title track isn't a coincidentally named original composition, but is a glorious take on the Martika track, complete with an ideal production to put the emphasis on Cheryl Lim's divine voice, shining at it's best, conjuring a scriptural atmosphere that sits perfectly alongside the lyrics.
Cheryl's voice is both captivating and emotive but the drawing point is it's subtle nature. 'Long Way From Home' strips back the production to bring a focus tightly on the relatable story locked within the lyrics and sees her voice at it's mesmerising best. With a haunting backdrop, 'A Thousand Days' sees Cheryl bringing the passion and honesty of Sarah McLachlan into her touching deliverance and easily sits as one of the standouts from the EP. Save for the enchanting drop of the chorus with it's ambient beauty that reaches a perfect climax for it's final rendition. This is songwriting at it's best; an earnest message coated in a memorable hook and taken to new heights with the dedicated Lim at the helm.
Don't expect to be hammered over the head with a forceful delivery, insisting you feel the message of the song; Jade Diary's music puts it out there and you can fetch however much emotion and meaning you like from it. Above all, this is music to enjoy. Not preaching, not politically charged but dealing with recognisable themes such as love and loss but doing it expertly. 'Love Thy Will Be Done' is a charming representation of Jade Diary's warmth and talent and when you're lazing in the garden on a Sunday afternoon, you'd struggle to find much better than this.
Reviewer: Simon McMurdo
Mossip EP Review, April 2012
Jade Diary is the name taken by Australian singer songwriter, Cheryl Lim. Love Thy Will Be Done is her first EP release as a solo artist. The title track is a song written by Prince for Martika's first album. (Anyone remember the ex- Kids Incorporated star?). Most won't remember the original version, as it wasn't a huge hit. Jade Diary brings such life to the track that was a little too synth heavy. Cheryl Lim's voice is front and forward here, as it should be. Prince always wrote the best ballads for women, and this song is no exception. It is ethereal and romantic and super girly. Cheryl takes this song and makes it her own.
The EP is 5 songs and is a preview for listeners. Her full length album will be out later in the year. Of the five songs, three of them are written by Cheryl. The other four songs share some traits with the title track. All of them possess the same dreamy melodies and they all have a strong vocal. Cheryl's voice can be compared to the likes of Jennifer Noble of Grey Eye Glances with a touch of Colbie Caillat thrown in for good measure. Another similarity that many of the songs share is a melancholic tone.
"A Thousand Days" is a haunting song of forgiveness with a new age vibe. The lyrics convey sadness and are about forgiving a person who has hurt you. "A thousand days, a million stars. All that you said has turned into scars. It's time to say goodbye to the hate that blackens what's left of my heart." Cheryl's sings in a breathless, sultry way that still retains a certain innocence. There's something refreshing about a voice that is pure and free from all the overt sexuality that seems to have a hold on most pop music. Jade Diary is beyond that. This is music that is beautiful because its focus is on the lyrics and melody and not on shock value.
"Tomorrow" is a song about a city dweller. The song paints a vivid picture of how one person can be lonely in the throngs of a big city, and yet remain hopeful for bigger and better things to happen in the future.
Unrequited love is the theme of "Sublime," one of the EP's more upbeat sounding songs. The song has jangling guitars and a great beats, shades of Belinda Carlisle. This is pop perfection.
The EP ends with the mellow "Long Way From Home." It is another song about a love that's gone, and it couldn't be sung prettier. In fact, Cheryl Lim sings about sad subjects better than just about any artist. Her voice is soothing and angelic. Sadness should not sound so good.
Jade Diary is an artist to watch; a voice that isn't like every other out there. The three songs that she wrote are full of emotion and imagery. She will have you longing for the days when Lilith Fair was the concert to see, because surely she'd be part of it. Love Thy Will Be Done is just enough music to satisfy the listener, and it will help tide fans over until her full length album is released.
If you are looking to sample a new artist, look no further than Jade Diary. Love Thy Will Be Done is a reminder of all that is good in music. This is an EP that will definitely be put on repeat on your iPod or stereo, because it is simply that good. It is one of this year's best listens. If you haven't heard Jade Diary yet, what are you waiting for?
Review by: Andrea Guy
The Cottlesloe Hotel Review
Doublelucky Club Review
Next Big Thing Comp 2010 Judges' Comments
- Interesting style and mix of influences.
Landscape of Dreams - Perthbands.com, 1/6/08
The Jade Diary are a mixture of the pop elements of Fleetwood Mac (with vocalist and main songwriter Cheryl Lim reminiscent of Stevie Nicks in her vocal delivery) with some folk and light rock. This is a slick, professional EP with carefully-chosen songs, strong production work by Soundbaker Studio and lovely artwork.
The EP opens with Love Called Me Home, a mid-paced pop song introduced with an eerie guitar which immediately caught my attention. The percussion is used effectively in the verses to drive the song, before building to a catchy chorus hook. The strongest of the four tracks, the song is topped with smooth vocals and thoughtful lyrics.
What She Wants is the rockiest moment of the EP, while the title track and Wanderer are slower ballads. The title track is a beautiful song with heartfelt vocals, while Wanderer was the weakest of the four with its bland melody line.
The only critique I would have of The Jade Diary is that I would like to hear some more variation in their sound. The band's sound can border on being too middle of the road at times. Perhaps it would be worthwhile to introduce more up-tempo material and edgier, more textured sounds to add greater sonic interest.
Overall, Landscape of Dreams is a strong and musically-mature release from a promising group. I was especially impressed with the arrangements and I look forward to hearing more material.
EP Launch Review, 18/7/08
What I like most about this band is their versatility, managing to successfully combine pop/rock up tempo songs with more emotive ballads. On the night, their personal and low-key acoustic set contrasted well with the full band numbers. This is a band to take note of.
West Australian Folk Federation
EP Launch Review, 18/7/08
- Andrew Davey
Mediasearch Review, 15/8/08
- Carmine Pascuzzi
Wheatbelt Mercury Review
"U2 With Female Vocals, or perhaps Vanessa Carlton with more guitar? Summarizing the sound of The Jade Diary isn't entirely easy, it's surely easier to check out their Sellaband page and try to take in as much of their music as possible.
Their genre is essentially in rock and pop- though each track adds something original to the formula...
'Love Called Me Home' oozes pop sensibility, with a strong country vibe- especially present in the serene vocals. The track begins as some sort of rocky power ballad, reminiscent of artists such as Alanis Morisette and Janis Joplin. However the chorus is a far more soothing affair, putting a main focus on the delightful voice of Cheryl Lim.
Her vocals prove their worth again- in the second track 'What She Wants'. This time, a rockier sound gives The Jade Diary a more passionate feel- particularly the chorus which has a very strong hook, and interesting vocal lines.
The final track on offer at Sellaband is the interestingly titled 'Wanderer', which opens on pure piano but soon finds itself accompanied with a soft rock backing. The semi-acoustic, unplugged effect provides a new strength for the band- as their sound conjures up a more emotional side to the band.
Whats notable about The Jade Diary is their truth, honesty and raw emotion that channels through each song, and what i find is their greatest strength is that the tracks all provide an insight into the deepest emotions and feelings so many will experience in their life.
So don't take too long, it won't be long before the final chapter of The Jade Diary is written, make sure you're names inside..."
From Paul McMaster, on 8 April 2008:
"This EP must be one of the best I heard for such a long time.So professionally produced.
All the songs are really impressive.
You can just tell The Jade Diary will make one awesome 50K CD.
Destined for the big time."
From George Wan, on 8 April 2008:
"What more could you ask for? It's all there: sublime vocals, awesome sound & heart-felt lyrics.
There's one more thing they could have - your belief. Be part of their journey through SAB and beyond. You won't be disappointed."