It’s not often you hear neo soul covered by Asian Americans. (Okay, there’s Renee Sebastian, but you don’t see everyone trying to cover Goapele at your local Asian American Idol.) Wikipedia describes neo soul as being more “ethnocentric” to its R&B counterparts, cognizant on matters cultural and political. Enter Dawen, a R&B singer-songwriter based in the LA area; his first single “Wake Up” — with lyrics such as “Just because I saw the movie Crouching Tiger / doesn’t mean that I know kung fu” — have been making the rounds in the Asian American blog circles. And while this means you’ll probably hear this song more on, say, the main stage of Kollaboration or the local cherry blossom festival than on the radio, I can appreciate the message and especially the musicality of his music.
What really caught my attention, however, is Dawen’s cover of Maxwell’s “Pretty Wings,” performed here with his brother George. I’ve been a fan of Maxwell for a while, but seriously, this guy is good.