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Open Arms

As much as she wants to please critics and fans by agreeing with them that she is embracing more her music in Open Arms, Aiza Seguerra cannot simply do so. What Aiza knows is that she just sings the songs and shares them with others. And it just happens that the album’s theme is melancholic, except for the jazzy Smooth Operator that topped Singapore’s jazz chart for three weeks.

What the listener hears is a singer effortlessly showcasing her soothing voice. And I wonder if the unassuming Aiza knows that.

“It’s different in Singapore,” shares Aiza about recording an album in the Lion City. “Here, in the Philippines, when you do an album you can include fast songs to make the album alive. There, if your album is melancholic, the songs should be all melancholic. The artist should only focus on one genre. That’s why there were tracks and arrangements being taken out from the album at the onset. There had to be uniformity in the sounds and theme.”

Thus, Open Arms is a new learning experience for Aiza as a recording artist.

Before she hit the Manila recording studios, album producers like Ken Suzuki of S2S Pte. Ltd presented Aiza a list of 20 songs. She personally chose 15. The number was trimmed down to eight, plus two new songs. Para Lang Sa’Yo, theme of ABS-CBN’s Ysabella where Aiza was part of the cast, is the only Tagalog song in the international released album. It has also been released in Hong Kong, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam. The album also got good reviews and heavy rotation in these territories.

“I didn’t expect anything big to come after Para Lang Sa’Yo,” says Aiza of the attention Open Arms is getting now, plus its gold record award in Singapore. “I didn’t have high expectations. I told myself, if it turns out to be a hit, it will just be a bonus. I’m just happy with what I do now. I’m happy that people buy my album. And I’m singing for them.”

Aiza adds that she was surprised people outside the Philippines appreciate her music and songs in her latest album. It should not come as a surprise because Aiza has been true to her craft. She has shown this in her recent album launch at Eastwood. Those who watched Aiza perform live agree she can sing and play the guitar well.

Open Arms is a 13-track album mostly of revivals. Although you have listened to them in the past and heard them on radio, they sound new and different as Aiza lends her soft, calm voice to them.

So, you wouldn’t think that Vincent was sung by Josh Groban and Time After Time was a Cindy Lauper hit. This is true with Michael Bublé’s Home and Martin Nievera’s I’ll Be There For You. Aiza simply puts a twist in those staple songs on any DJ’s playlist and listener’s request book.

Also in the album are I Can’t Make You Love Me, Over The Rainbow, Persistent Rain, Longer, Journey, At Last and the bonus track Para Lang Sa’Yo. You will be drawn to the arrangement of Open Arms.

Asked again if the title of the album Open Arms speaks of her level of intimacy with her music, Aiza replies, “I wish that’s how deep the reason behind the title of the album is. But they (producers) were the ones who chose.”

Jerry Donato
20 October 2008, Philippine Star

Open Arms

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