This is a terrible name for an unusual band. AMS are a Taiwanese-American fusion group from Taipei, consisting of singer and dancer Mia Hsieh along with other local musicians playing the traditional erhu, a two-stringed Chinese fiddle, the zhongruan lute and guitar, along with Scott Prairie, once a singer-songwriter based in New York, who adds bass guitar and lute. Released in advance of their Womad appearance this month, this is an album that mixes Taiwanese and Chinese styles (Hsieh's parents fled to the island of Taiwan from China) with more predictable Western influences. It succeeds largely because of Hsieh's cool, drifting vocal work, best heard on the reflective Gu Qin, on which she is backed by effective, minimalist arrangements. Elsewhere, there are cheerful if unremarkable mood pieces such as The Market Song and crossover songs like Dynasty, in which Hsieh is backed by a western riff given a gently eastern edge.
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