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Album Review: Ikaw at Ako – TJ Monterde

TJ Monterde is a former radio personality in Cagayan de Oro who turned into a songwriter and acoustic balladeer. Pursuing career in the music scene, he decided to collaborate with the excellent producers and musical engineers, and released a debut album entitled “Ikaw At Ako”.

The album showcases his soulful and heartwarming subtle singing with deft guitar playing. The tracks in the list are mix of songs for courtship and of romantic affliction. The album contains original compositions and covers of songs he grew up listening to.

Originally sung by Francis Magalona and written by Jaime Antiporda back in 1990, “Cold Summer Night” is the lead track in the album that talks about regrets, asking for a second chance. Without any rap, he effortlessly made his own interpretation with just an acoustic tune in a slower tempo.

He also made his own version of Dingdong Avanzado’s classic hit “Hindi Mo Na Ba Minamahal“. The way TJ sings the song makes the listener feel the sincerity of the song’s sadness. His alluring vocals enhance the beauty of this emotional song.

The song “Ikaw at Ako” was debuted in Marcelo Santos III’s short film My Super Fan Girl on Youtube. Weeks after its official release, the song charted in different local radio stations nationwide. Melodic and romantic, TJ’s storytelling in the song warms the heart.

He also covers the 1998 Metropop Grand prize “Mabuti Pa Sila,” originally composed and recorded by poet, songwriter and recording artist, Gary Granada. One line in the last verse is removed maybe because it might be too sensitive or untimely. Stripping that line though didn’t lessen TJ’s rendition of the genius composition with its up-tempo jazzy guitar beats.

He continues to serenade listeners with his own version of another romantic OPM piece called “Mahal na Mahal Kita” originally done by Archie D. and more recently covered by Sam Concepcion. It is good that he still finds a way to make the song his own with his strings plus modulated appealing voice.

Nandito Lang Ako” is a song of courtship to mesmerize someone. Feel the love with his original mellow piece singing about promises and feelings for someone special.The optimistic acoustic track deeply explores the sincerity of loving someone.

Iyong iyo” is another cover in the album which was formerly made a hit by the band Big Thing. Compared to the original, the song obviously changed its arrangement. The first chorus which was supposed to be before the first verse was removed and replaced with an acoustic guitar riff as the intro. Besides making the song shorter, the change doesn’t seem to have suffered from any ill effects.

The Online Harana jammer continues in the album with another original acoustic composition, “Sa Tuwina.” The mid-tempo easy-listening track shows a positive emotion while tackling how to keep a relationship better and stronger.

His only English-written original song is “Treat You Right”. Just like singing while floating on top of cloud 9, the track is a perfect song dedicated to someone who’s in love. This well-written piece is one of his best compositions in the album and has a potential to grab nominations in different local music awards.

Huwag na Lang Kaya,” originally popularized by True Faith, is one of the covers in the album that will stick to the ears even upon first listen. As with the original, it has the signature whistle intro, playful guitar beats and a catchy familiar rhythm that made the song exceptional among the other tracks. This is a perfect song to sing in a jam that audience will surely enjoy singing along to.

Wala Ka Na,” another original track, is a song about heartbreak.TJ sings the song slowly but clearly as he describes before and after feelings, and situations of a relationship that turn into misery.

Overall, the album really made him an asset in the OPM scene, exhibiting his songwriting skills and captivating voice. TJ truly has genuine talent for his chosen career, enough to keep pace with other singers. Being a newcomer in the music biz, he has already received four nominations in the 2014 Awit awards including  Best Performance By a Male Recording Artist, Best Ballad Recording, Music Video of the Year (Ikaw at Ako), and Song of the Year (Ikaw at Ako). Indeed, Tj Monterde is one of the most promising male performers in today’s generation.

The album is released by Galaxy Records and distributed by PolyEast Records.