written by: drowningn00b
When Ga-In’s ‘Talk About S‘ was announced, chances that JeA’s solo debut were decreasing. Going on a steady diet of Brown Eyed Girls and OST work, JeA didn’t need the money. Creatively, she didn’t need a release; JeA has begun taking production reign of BEG, with the summer ballad, ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream‘ as the latest example.
All that said, the foundation JeA has built created the platform for her long-awaited solo release, ‘Just JeA,’ – a strong debut with a few rookie mistakes. Let’s talk.
As the vocal powerhouse of BEG, JeA’s talent is easy to hear. Outside of her OST contributions, however, rarely do you hear the full breadth of her voice. “While You’re Sleeping”, the lead single, corrects that, and more. Working with Jung Suk Won of 015B, the track is big, rivaling “Sixth Sense” in scale and trumping it in length. Jung Suk Won and JeA do not hold back, throwing in a tympani, layered vocals, male background vocals, and sleigh bells. You get to hear JeA’s full range and it’s great, especially the long note she holds before the guitar solo. “While You’re Sleeping” qualifies as a tryout for “I Am A Singer”, but like that show, the single runs long. The song is 30 seconds too long, making for a labored listening experience.
“While You’re Sleeping” should have ended with her belted long note, but, rather, ends on a whisper. If you went through the trouble of making so much noise, why bother? While a great vocal exercise for JeA, “While You’re Sleeping” suffers from over-reaching and a resolution that’s a letdown.
Some of the other songs on ‘Just JeA’ don’t fare better. “Street Cat” tries to follow in Narsha and Ga-In’s footsteps as a sexpot, and almost gets there. With a sensual setup of acoustic guitar and finger snaps, “Street Cat” then throws in whimsical elements that seem contradictory. The synth and “doodoodoo” hook over the whistling take the grown-up sexy vibe into new kid on the block territory, unsure of how the game is played. Along the same lines, “Silent Stalker” is close to perfection. The problem is JeA – she over-sings. As a lyrical successor to “Abracadabra,” Jea’s tale of lover gone nuts is trying too hard to convince you of that. The chorus is a tangle of vocal distortion, glitches and strings, which is fine if each chorus got progressively bigger; because the segments aren’t different, the impact is dulled by the end.
Both “Street Cat” and “Silent Stalker”, though good tracks, have chorus segments that take you out of their initial arrangements, and not in the best way.
Closing out 2012, JeA teased audiences with “Let’s Hug,” a duet with R&B great Jung Yup of Brown Eyed Soul fame. “Let’s Hug” is a quiet R&B ballad with a calm note progression that keeps the focus on the singing. Sticking to their higher registers, JeA and Jung Yup deliver a beautiful duet with well matched voices. Jung Yup’s falsetto plays well with JeA’s voice, an interplay that lets her bring the song its full potential. “Let’s Hug” is why “Just JeA” was released in the first place: a clear and shining example of the talent within one of K-Pop’s mainstays.
As the last member of Brown Eyed Girls to release a solo project, and with a catalog of stellar material, JeA had a lot to live up to. Narsha’s self-titled EP brought out her velvet tones, and Ga-In improved from “Step 2/4” to “Talk About S”, while Miryo’s party collection, though forgettable, reminded fans why she’s one of kpop’s leading rappers. For the most part, “Just JeA” delivers what it set out to do, which is to show JeA as a multi-faceted artist in different musical templates. Not everything is a winner, from incomplete executions of “Silent Stalker” and “Street Cat” to the over-achieving “While You’re Sleeping”. The latter has great singing, and JeA’s large voice is focused for beautiful effect in “Let’s Hug”. Whether on the nose or not quite there, JeA’s first solo outing has its rookie moments but achieves in highlighting JeA as a talented singer and artist.
|Days and Nights||
| Points scale
0 – could do without
0.5 – mediocre/filler
0.75 – pretty good/grew on me
1 – liked immediately
|While You’re Sleeping||
Points to stars conversion: [(3.25/5) x 5] + 0.25*
*there is a 0.25 bonus for every album. The logic is that, if every song were “pretty good”, it’s a 4-star album.