[Review][Album] Park Ji Yoon – “Tree of Life”

written by: drowningn00b

Current “Opera Star” contestant Park Ji Yoon has released her eighth studio album, “Tree of Life”. Full of warmth and effervescent melodies, Ji Yoon sings quietly and the production is soft, but does the record suffer for it?

After a falling out with JYP Entertainment after her sixth album, Park Ji Yoon turned away from her k-pop career and all its machinations. She went on to become an actress, most famously for the romantic comedy “Lie to Me”, and as an artist to indie music with the record “Flower: Again, For the First Time” in 2009.

Now, more than 3 years after her transformation, Park Ji Yoon is more confident in her choice of direction, working with popular indie artists No Reply, Asher Park, and Mate, and writing/composing half the record. (For more on Mrs. Park, read her interview with Soompi).

For “Tree of Life”, Mrs. Park refined the style of the record, calming the tone and melodies to barely above a ballad and leaving the focus on her voice and guitar. Nowhere is this more clearly shown than in the title track, which is also the lead single. Led by her guitar, the song moves slowly, like milkweed in a soft breeze. It gains instruments and layers as it goes along until an explosive electronic segment that should be out of place, but isn’t. The song takes on grandeur that her voice can’t achieve. The complete package of the single is one to behold.

Finally, Park Ji Yoon finds her footing as an artist with “Tree of Life” an extension of that talent, unlike the material of her idol past.

“Tree of Life” MV

The rest of the album sounds like this, starting low, and then gaining tension at its climax, though not reaching the heights of the title track.

The soothing “사랑하지 않아” is just Ji Yoon and her guitar, while “Quiet Dream” goes the traditional pop ballad track of piano and strings. There are off-shoots from this, like the lite-dance approach of “그럴꺼야” and the mid-tempo “그 날들처럼”. These songs break up the sonic monotony of the record, but never does Park Ji Yoon lose sight of herself to make the songs work. This isn’t the newbie who sang “Fade Away”, or the pop artist behind “Adult Ceremony”. There are no gimmicks, no “rap” segments, no auto-tuning – just an artist at the top of her game and collaborators who helped her get there.


“Tree of Life” is the result of removing the style from substance, and it couldn’t sound better. Park Ji Yoon is at her best: self-assured and letting the music speak for itself. The vocals are top notch, the production never faltering, and the concept of the record never veers off track. Park Ji Yoon’s “Tree of Life” is a gorgeous album that gets better as you listen.


10 thoughts on “[Review][Album] Park Ji Yoon – “Tree of Life”

  1. This is the type of music that sustains me, keeps me going. PJY’s voice is refreshing and hauntingly beautiful at once. Loving the album. It’s a pity the “Hallyu” is being spread by a bunch of vapid kids. The Korean music scene has so much more to offer.

    • Not sure I would use “vapid” to describe the mainstream k-pop stuff, but I understand how you feel. One of my aims in writing for this site was to concentrate on the off-beat stuff to give newbies another side of the korean music spectrum. Thanks for reading!

  2. Pingback: Month In KPOP – February « McRoth's Residence

  3. I will definitely listen to the rest of the songs on this album, but it only took me two listens of “Tree of Life” and I didn’t even hear the whole song and I already bought it on iTunes. I really like exploring the rest of K-music. It’s a shame that this same article on AKP doesn’t get even 100 comments. I hope some fans will start to look deeper into K-music.

    • And for those of you who haven’t seen it yet, PJY performed “Tree of Life” for the SBS network over the weekend. Check it out! Made me tear up, especially during the break when the screens change. Truly amazing.

      As for AKP, I’ll just say there’s a reason why the quality of the writing is the way it is. Make of it what you will.

  4. This album is soooooooo amazing and stunning! I’m blown away! This album derserves so much recognition! The melodies and Park Ji Yoon’s voice is so beautiful and soothing! Thanks for the review! Well written. :) I’m glad I found out about her.

    • Thanks! I had no idea anyone was still reading this review. And thanks for the kind words, much appreciated ^_^
      And so glad you enjoyed all the indie reviews. So glad to see fellow indie fans showing love to the lesser known genre.

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