KZ Tandingan has a lot of love to give. In her self-titled debut album, for instance, she acknowledges the “Mr. Right” she has yet to meet—because, she explains, “I’ve waited for you for 21 years. But, true love waits.”
There’s good reason for the “X Factor” winner’s intimate disclosure: Her 10-track collection gathers KZ’s romantic musings about falling in love (the sunny, self-penned “Love, Love, Love” and Toto Sorioso’s jazzy “Umiibig”), yearning to be loved back (Francis Salazar’s “Puro Laro”), getting her heart broken (Domingo Rosco Jr.’s Himig Handog entry, “Scared to Death”), and moving on (Jonathan Manalo’s “Un-Love You”)—a veritable pastiche of sophisticated tunes that drip with raw emotions.
Tandingan is a cut above most singing champs, because she effectively debunks the popular notion that birit-style singing is the only way to go in talent-search tilts—she’s the glorious exception that proves the desultory rule. She makes the moody carrier single, “Puro Laro,” throb with urgency and palpable longing.
She needn’t sing the higher octave of “Killing Me Softly’s” melody to knock her Fugees-channeling rendition out of the ballpark. Her subtle scatting in both the Roberta Flack classic, as well as Yosha Honasan and Jonathan Manalo’s “Darating Din,” isn’t just for show—it’s integral to the songs. Another radio-ready number is Manalo and Paula Alcasid’s “Bakit Lumuluha.”
KZ puts a premium on genuine empathy more than style—as she deftly demonstrates in Vincent Ferdinand Dancel’s haunting “‘Wag Ka Nang Umiyak,” one of the album’s must-hear tracks: “Huwag mong iyakan ang mundong pabagu-bago/ Ako ang iyong bangka/ Kung magalit man ang alon ng panahon/ Sabay tayong aahon.”
The recording also celebrates Tandingan’s perseverance (“Darating Din”)—and genuine love of music. In the liner notes, the talented songstress from Digos City fondly recalls how she and her “Easyboys”—Jumar Orencio, Joseph Tabanay, Weslie Capute and Edward Baylon—would compose songs outside an
Internet café, jam in sing-along bars, perform in school programs, and take part in acoustic-band competitions. Her life has taken a bracingly upbeat turn since!
These days, KZ’s reach as a performer is wider and more varied—but, she says she still cries every time she remembers how hard she fought for her music. Deep inside, she knew she had something going for her: Some people refer to it as “talent”—but, her admirers call it the “X factor”!