To Meet With Happiness may be Ariel Lin’s debut album, but it isn’t her first attempt at professional singing. In 2004, she lent her vocals to “Lonely Northern Hemisphere”, the ending theme song for idol drama Love Contract in which she co-starred with Mike He. This song shot singer Ocean Ou Deyang to fame when he debuted the year before. Her version was rather different from Ocean’s as it was performed from a female’s point of view and on a key suited for female vocals.

This strategy was repeated with her next singing effort, “Belonging To You Only”, the ending theme song for 2006’s Tokyo Juliet, where she played the love interest of Wu Zun from boyband Fahrenheit. “Belonging To You Only” was an original by Tank who recorded this in his second album, Keep Fighting, released in 2007.

The first song for Ariel to finally call her own was “You”, the ending theme for They Kiss Again (2007), the sequel to It Started With A Kiss (2005) that also stars Joe Cheng and Jiro Wang.

Overall, her album was a short 38 minutes with 10 tracks that range from slow ballads to cheery catchy tunes. The arrangements for the songs were kept simple and light with mainly guitar and piano accompaniment to suit her sweet girl-next-door image that she’s maintained since she entered showbiz in 2002. Her most prominent track in this album is “The Taste of Bread”, the ending theme for her latest idol drama Love or Bread (2009), where she continued her partnership with Joe Cheng as on-screen lovers.

Given the success of her first 2 tracks, which were covers of songs performed by male artistes, she did a cover for this debut album as well. This time, she delivered her own version of “Prank”, the ending theme song for It Started With a Kiss and an original by low-profile singer-songwriter Wang Lan Yin. It proved to be a bad move, however, because her vocals were weak compared to Wang’s, and with Ariel’s version having a simpler arrangement, these faults were further highlighted. In this song, the final chorus was sung in a higher key, which Wang had performed beautifully in her original version, while Ariel’s vocals could only be described as mediocre at best. It was almost painful to listen especially for fans of Wang’s version like this UrbanWire reviewer. It was disappointing, as Ariel had performed this song on a variety show during the promotional period for It Started With A Kiss back in 2005, and she did a more decent job “live” that time than through the studio recording for this album.

However, Ariel still managed a decent feat with her debut release. Some tracks worth your attention, other than “The Taste of Bread”, are “Firefly”, “Rely On” and “Sweet Garden”. She fared better for these tracks, showing an uneven standard throughout the album. She managed to hit the higher notes impressively in “Firefly”, but failed by a margin when faced with a similar challenge in the first track, “Glistening Tears in Rain”. She also successfully brought out the sweet feeling one feels when happily in love in her rendition of “Sweet Garden”.

The songs in the album are still enjoyable if you can ignore her misses in the high notes, and the light genre suits her sweet girly vocals. It would be unfair to compare Ariel to her peers in showbiz such as Rainie Yang, who already has 4 albums under her name, and there’s definitely room for improvement. If she decides to sidetrack into singing again, it’d be wise to give her time off for vocal lessons for a more stable performance.

Title: 幸福遇见 To Meet With Happiness
Artiste: 林依晨 Ariel Lin
Language: Mandarin
Record Label: Avex
Release Date: 10 July 2009

1.泪光雨 Glistening tears in rain
2.萤火虫 Firefly
3. Come to me
4.依靠 Rely on
5.你的味道 Your flavour
6.接近无限的蓝 Close to unlimited blue
7.恶作剧 Prank
8.甜蜜花园 Sweet garden
9.面包的滋味 The taste of bread
10.爱 Love