The freedom of being solo is liberating. Just me, myself, and I. But when someone significant enters your life, reciprocal understanding and compromising should be initiated. Otherwise, it’s just a one-sided relationship. No duets will materialise too.
After successfully releasing collaborations with artists around Asia such as Singapore’s Linying and Gentle Bones, South Korea’s Bibi, Japan’s Miho Fukuhara and Kan Sano, and Philippines’s Clara Benin, acclaimed local singer-songwriter Charlie Lim continues to pair up with kindred bonds—mostly recently fellow homegrown singer-actress Aisyah Aziz for his first music release in 2021.
An atypical joint effort performed in English and Bahasa Melayu, this bilingual duet, ‘Won’t You Come Around’, showcases the distinctive vocal qualities of both singers to convey relationship woes, consideration and sensitivity in particular. Lim expresses, “Ultimately it is a love song, but it’s more about understanding that the search for ‘real love’ doesn’t exist—it’s about what you build together over time.”
Embedded in lush modern R&B arrangements with gospel influences, the duo emphasises the growing pains of learning to understand, accept and rely on each other in a long-term relationship. Both didn’t neglect self-love too. In addition to the importance of learning to trust in a relationship, the personal struggle one faces in search of peace of mind and finding the patience to love oneself are highlighted too. Not easy to accomplish, but it is necessary. As reflected in the song’s bridge refrain regarding the paradox struggle—“Patience is a virtue, but I don’t want to change you.”
This tune is co-written with long-time collaborator Chok Kerong and Lim had finished writing the melodies and his part of the lyrics before realising the song had the potential to be a great duet. “Even though the production is quite modern, I felt like the mood of the song was reminiscent of an old soul ballad and thought Aisyah would be perfect. She’s so expressive and her tone and phrasing makes her one of the best singers in our generation, and everything she brought to the table just fit so effortlessly,” says Lim.
One striking aspect of the song is Aziz’s verse that’s penned in Bahasa Melayu. Its bilingual interpretation happened organically while the duo was recording in the studio. “Neither of us planned it to be that way, but when we were in the studio tracking the demo, it felt instinctive for me to start [in Malay],” says Aziz.
The song’s message is further extended to a music video that also stars both singers. They play two characters stuck in a trance while roaming around aimlessly through the sea, sand and gravel in two seemingly parallel universes. Before their timelines converge, they take respite in each other’s company after having gone through their individual struggle.
Directed by Jonathan Choo, another frequent collaborator of Lim’s, the music video dabbles on the concept of navigating through life and time. Choo and his team envisioned the characters’ movements to be slowed down as a representation of how one should not rush to make a decision, but rather to be self-aware and observant of oneself and one’s surroundings.
“The visuals are pretty open to interpretation,” says Lim. “But I liked the idea of having sand representing time, water as change and rebirth, and the gravel of the road as a kind of death. There are quite a few shots that do reference themes of a number of my previous videos as well, which is another thing I like to do because things always come full circle.”
‘Won’t You Come Around’ is now available to purchase and stream on digital music platforms including Apple Music.