With Gaia, Lam moves out of her romance ballad comfort zone. Gone are the contagious and heart-wrenching love songs she was acclaimed for, and instead expresses her spiritual views and thoughts on environmental issues. To make the album more personal, she abandoned her past practice of hiring a team of experienced producers, opting instead to build the album brick by brick with emerging Chinese songwriter Chang Zile, (常石磊).
Lam also jettisons her trademark crystalline, soaring vocals to adopt a new style that is by turns laid-back and frenzied; she can be heard whispering, sobbing and screaming.
The lead single Wordless Song (無言歌), penned by Lam herself, expresses her existential concern about the world’s chaos and the need for redemption.
With Gaia, the album’s title track which means “mother earth,” Lam agonizes over the destruction done to the environment. Her hypnotically moody vocal makes it a riveting track.
Other songs are not as thematically grandiose. They convey Lam’s views about life’s joys and woes, triumphs and losses. Red Eyes (紅眼眶) is the only track that resembles a love song and has traces of Lam’s previous romantic style.
This sophisticated and envelope-pushing album shows Lam’s integrity as a singer — she is willing to abandon her tried-and-true formula to bring Mandopop to a new level.