Review: Hele ng Maharlika by Rice Lucido

Hele ng Maharlika by Rice LucidoIf you feel you’ve had enough of the pa-quirky/pa-hugot indie folk you often hear from the scene, you might want to listen to Rice Lucido. Okay, that sounds very much like a hard sell, and that’s not typical of me to do. But I’ll have to admit that listening to the first couple of tracks on her debut album, Hele ng Maharlika, inspired such plaudits. It’s all refreshing. The arrangements are lush. Rice’s vocals are quite expressive. It doesn’t stick to its lane. There will be excursions to something more ethnic, and then to something surprisingly more accessible. (I did compare her voice to Lolita Carbon last time; a part of me wants to include Grace Nono this time.) Admittedly the momentum doesn’t quite keep up: by the middle part things start to flag and settle. But perhaps that’s me expecting a lot of pushing across the album, but that would’ve been tiring. (Maybe the album, at 50 minutes, can be shorter?) But it picks up again at the end, with the title track tying everything up all together nicely. Hele ng Maharlika is an adventure waiting for you to get on, and considering the trajectory, I’m confident Rice will return with something even stronger than this one – and it is strong. [NB]4/5

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