In her self-titled debut album, Sylvia Ratonel wears her emotions on her sleeve. The songs speak about love and regret, possibly due to her recent relationship which she revealed in an interview on msn.

From her Singapore idol days, Sylvia has shown that she is a force to be reckoned with. From being the first-ever female idol finalist to the first Singaporean ambassador for Maybelline New York, she has proven that she has what it takes to stay in the local music industry.

And she isn’t your average package pop idol. At 22, she has experienced enough hardships most of us would’nt have to deal with in our lifetime.

In an interview with 8 days magazine, Sylvia revealed that she grew up in public housing. Together with her family of 5, they would sleep together in the living room of the Housing Board flat, with no bedroom.

Since then, she definitely has come a long way.

From rumours of being attached to Singapore idol winner Sezairi Sezali to clinching two contracts (one with Universal and the other with Mediacorp) Sylvia has shown her ability to hold her own in an industry known for its high-turnover rate.

All of these experiences she gained reflects in her album. The entire record talks about love, regret and being the life of the party. From pop, dance and easy listening genres, the album has so many genere’s it can be considered a compilation.

Musically, this album seems to be more about Sylvia experimenting with different genres and styles than displaying her vocal talent, which was what she showcased in Singapore Idol.

Because even most international artistes take 2 or 3 albums before finding their ‘fit’, it would be unfair of us to expect this rising talent to hit her stride immediately. Unfortunately, UrbanWire fears the local music scene isn’t that patient or forgiving.

All but 3 of the songs were penned by her and her producer, Don Richmond.

Of these, “A Woman And A Man”, is a collaboration with Sezairi Sezali (Singapore Idol winner of 2009), with whom she was rumoured to be romantically linked. While Haraman Osman, a producer which worked with Sezali, produced “Mari Bersamku”, the only Malay song in the album. The album also includes “Manic Monday” which was originally written by Prince and sung by The Bangles.

However, as with most self-penned albums, Brooke Fraser, Ian Shaw, there’s always a catch.

The songs were written by Sylvia are stamped, unavoidably, with her inexperience. No doubt she would have some guidance from the more experienced producers, such as Don Richmond, but ultimately the style of each song is inevitably hers alone.

To begin, as Sylvia and Don seem to be the ones behind the music, they only bring about the creativity of the two of them. This limited the album’s potential in many ways, from the music to the lyrics and the arrangement. All the songs would therefore only have the creativity and the talent of two people, not a whole team.

Secondly, as Sylvia experimented with the different styles and genres, she made the listener more confused about her identity and inevitably made it difficult for her listeners to relate to her. Yes, she did convey her emotions well, but with topics such as love and confidence thrown together in genres like dance and easy listening, it gets really confusing.

All these unfortunately made this album a disappointment. UrbanWire was expecting her to show off her vocal ability but found that in only 3 songs.

Nonetheless, there are songs that deserve an honourable mention.

“Foolish That Way”, a song about her lover leaving, gave Sylvia the opportunity to show off her vocals as it was accompanied by a simple arrangement that was enough to blow UrbanWire away. The song also showed her ability to convey her emotions to the listeners and UrbanWire could really feel her heart when she sang.

Another notable mention would be her first single, “Fly”, a song about a confident girl going out to paint the town red. This is the only song that was produced twice, one with a feature of ShiGGa Shay, a rapper also with Universal Music. The song provides a catchy tune with a fantastic arrangement, with more dynamics, mainly due to ShiGGa’s rap, and more style, as there were elements of hip-hop in the mix. Together with her vocal ability, it certainly packs a punch.

Her debut self-titled album may have had some bumps along the way but we believe in second chances. Besides, you don’t always get it right the first time.

Artist: Sylvia Ratonel 
Album: Sylvia Ratonel 
Rating: MM

Language: English
 Genre: Pop 
Release Date: 27 October 2010

Track list:

  1. Get up everybody
  2. Fly
  3. Loving you
  4. Its raining
  5. A woman and a man f. Sezairi Sezali
  6. Mari bersamku
  7. In my arms again
  8. Manic Monday
  9. Gimme what you got

10.  Fly ft. ShiGGa Shay

11.  Come runaway with me

12.  Foolish that way