Coming out of the always fertile Shanghai music scene, Shu Ying made a name for herself in 2015 with the release of Are You Still a Teenager?
This time she is back with Girl’s Girl’s World, which was recorded in Netherlands with the help of producer Idan Altman. Shu Ying says that some songs were written a long time ago, and some more recently, but all were set in stone in that one week-long recording session.
With the poise of a musician more concerned with telling stories than creating sonic delights, Shu Ying uses guitar as her melodic centre-point, though her melting vocal plays a large part in settling the various personalities of her tracks.
The tracks on Girl’s Girl’s World are generally short and snappy.
My Baby is So Ruled makes use of layered vocals and a droning backdrop. Shu Ying maintains a lot of space in the background, which makes her climbing pitch all the more haunting and memorable.
Hardly Spoken Girl has a looping guitar melody that sounds like briefly spinning tops. Lyrics like “You want to break your heart, you are not afraid to, I know you are not,” seem to reference some longing for love and new experience.
Leaving the City, the longest track on Girl’s Girl’s World, is much more a rock tune than the rest of the album ~ We encounter Ying using synthesizers and guitar and drums and sounding very much like Sharon Van Etten. A track like this gives a certain insight into the forces that drive the glut of Ying’s music. She is not really trying to create an album full of songs like this, though she could if she wished. Her emphasis is upon moments and capturing those moments in music.
Shu Ying’s music may maintain a lot of the bare necessities that go along with live performance, but that is not to her detriment. What we hear on this record is the raw emotion and raw material of a songwriter with a very strong emotional clout. If the production is bare, that just allows more opportunity to focus on the really special aspects of her music – which are barely restrained vocals, simplistic instrumental arrangements and the occasional brash projection of an emotion.