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Deon Toh: Buro.Singapore Playlist #183

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Text: Deon Toh

Editor: Tracy Phillips


Being a deeply personal thing, I believe that playlists afford listeners the opportunity to take a glimpse into a curator's headspace; or at least the nuances that light the mood that gets them going and that's reflected in this playlist I've put together. These tracks that I've pulled together are songs I've found myself constantly returning to whenever I feel like I'm in need of fresh air, a change in perspective, or to drift away — I get anxious and stressed way too easily. When my environment gets overbearing, when flight overwhelms fight, the need to flee becomes all too much. Fortunately, music allows me to take a plunge into a more comforting domain. Soothing vocals, haunting hooks, lush vibes and downbeat rhythms are ideal for this mix.

'The Way I Keep Myself Together' by Kevin Garrett basically sums up the entire list. To me, it makes for one of the best songs ever written. Its melody and arrangement punches through with melancholia but provides just enough hope like a flame flickering in the rain. Being able to loosely relate to the song takes a load off my shoulders. It is the perfect sob-panion. Yes, it follows the theme of love, but just the instrumentation is killer enough for you to dream up your own sad tale.

Speaking of sad tales, 'Moving In Silence' was created right out of my need to address the growing distance I felt from my father. Aside from always being at loggerheads with him, he was also deteriorating due to Parkinson's disease and I desperately needed an outlet to confront my helplessness. I do acknowledge my own self-centred views; it is reflected in the lyrics, alongside my frustrations.

'Weathered' by Jack Garratt is such a moving song. The vocal execution and arrangements are placed to perfection. The first time I heard the song, it brought me on an emotional rollercoaster from moments of sorrow to elation. The song is a writing masterclass in itself.

'I Wouldn't Know Any Better Than You' by Gentle Bones is an ear-worm. The percussive tones that change from verse to chorus and the way Joel sings paints an illusion that the track slows time down. It's an addictive car tune that's borderline chill. Somehow, this song allows me to concede my bugbears and blank-wall my negativities. I would usually reset my frame of mind with it after a long day. Shoutout to Joel and Josh for crafting another gem.

Not many people remember that I used to play the drums for various bands and that rhythms play a huge part in getting me to sit up and pay attention to any music. During my short music university stint in Boston, I joined a Batucada group as well and always had an affinity for Latin rhythms. When I heard 'Love Is Stronger Than Pride', I couldn't stop listening to it for weeks. It's the kind of song that makes you want to dance in your chair, or just bob your head with your shades on.

DEON is a singer-songwriter who blends earnest melodies and evocative lyrics, building an enduring collection of heartfelt songs over the years.

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