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.