Hailing from the Great White North, Toronto to be exact, Jeffrey Li first popped up on the music world’s radar as a potential contestant on NBC’s popular program America’s Got Talent. His popular audition video garnered over 25 million YouTube views and a later song entitled “Little Big Shots” elicited even greater attention. The teenage powerhouse has clear love and respect for his chosen art erupting from him anytime he puts his musical talents to use and his latest single “Anniversary” is no exception. There are modern influences galore making themselves heard in Li’s music, but he embraces traditional musical strengths as well and shapes the song’s identity in an individual way. Nothing about “Anniversary” comes across as imitation.
The musical backing is a mix of acoustic guitar, synthesizer, and piano. There is pre-programmed percussion driving the track forward as well, but it possesses a remarkably natural sound despite its digital source. The acoustic guitar is far from pre-programmed. Li has a smart and memorable melody to work with here and his counterpoint vocal melody builds on it rather than slavishly following its lead. Despite Li’s burgeoning talents as both a performer and songwriter, this isn’t an “one man show” and “Anniversary” benefits from world class production and an excellent mix.
The lyrics are quite developed for someone under the age of eighteen, but Li doesn’t seem the least bit intimidated by them. It takes an innate understanding of human nature and emotions for such a young performer to grasp the dramatic truth and possibilities present in these lines. He takes advantage of the opportunity they provide him as a performer. The writing develops in a measured way, never succumbing to extraneous words, and covering familiar territory with language all its own. The wise and heartfelt voice behind these lyrics sparks into spectacular life in Li’s hands.
Anniversary soon available for download on the full album “I Do If You Do”.
His vocal control is outstanding. Li modulates his voice from one line to the next with seemingly effortless skill. This is, naturally, a studio recording and any possible flaws will be addressed before releasing the track, but you never get any feeling that studio gimmickry drives Li’s vocal quality. He doesn’t miss his marks a single time during “Anniversary” and emphasizes all the right points in the lyric. As well, you cannot help but appreciate and admire the focus he brings to bear on singing with the track rather against it. The instrumental melody, primarily carried by the acoustic guitar, and vocal melodies are not identical, but enormously complementary.
Jeffrey Li’s single “Anniversary” should remind the more cynical amongst us that young artists are still emerging who aren’t looking to make a fast buck alone and burn with a pure love for performing. Jeffrey Li revels in the communicative power of his voice throughout “Anniversary” and delivers a performance that makes a deep emotional impact. It is well within the realm of possibility that Li experiences his greatest standalone success yet with this new song and it points towards an ever brighter future.