written by: drowningn00b
Artist/Album: Younha – ‘Just Listen’
Release Date: May 02, 2013
When Younha’s ‘Supersonic‘ came out last summer, I was transfixed. Combining my love of rock and superb vocals, that album was in constant rotation for the rest of 2012. It was one of the best albums last year and I was content to wait a while for the next release. It looked that way with her participation on “I Am a Singer”, doing covers of other people’s work. The experience stayed with her, as her new release, ‘Just Listen‘, is Younha interpreting the styles of her collaborators. Working with an impressive roster of artists, Younha lets others take the reign while never resting on her laurels.
Vocally, Younha tones down her singing in her new endeavor. Instead of the bombast delivered in “Showers”, the title track with reggae rapper Skull and the dance-rock number “Fireworks” with The Koxx, shows a calmer Younha, one that won’t blast through speakers but will force you to, well, listen. It’s a clever trick that goes well with the interpretation angle of the EP.
This isn’t to say there aren’t loud moments. On “One Fine Day”, the Yoon Do Hyun-produced song is pop-rock anthemic, full stop, with big guitars, stomp-and-clap hooks and hard drums to drive it all home. Even Hareem’s harmonica can’t keep quiet. The Naul track, “It’s Not That”, starts quiet enough, then booms its way to the end, with Younha over-singing along the way. The loudest, by far, is the Jo Hyun Ah penned “Sea Child”, a cluster of sound and chaos that feels like a tidal wave than a rolling shoreline. Where “It’s Not That” succeeded and “Sea Child” lost was in cohesion. The former still felt like one clear vision, while the latter’s parts loosely connected with no idea what it wanted to portray. Noise for noise’s sake isn’t pleasant, thus making “Sea Child” a blemish for Younha and Hyun Ah.
There’s more that makes up for it with the two ballads “The Real Reason We Broke Up” and “There Was Spring”. The lead single’s use of string balladry and flamenco-esque guitar-and-clapping is wonderful and pleasing, and Younha’s delivery accents that feeling, even though the lyrics are sad. Where the MV ends, the track continues with a long jam session and echoed vocals that just drift, as if the conversation that began in the song proper never reached a conclusion. The latter track is the most traditional one yet, opting for a strings and piano ballad approach. The length is what sets it apart, adding in long vocal stretches and an instrumental that means something. More than just a pause, it elevates the mood of the track where, once upon a time, Younha would have to. Sharing that spotlight makes it the OST track of this year.
After the big and showy outing in ‘Supersonic’, Younha tones things down for this follow-up. With Younha interpreting the styles of her collaborators, she shows she’s learned a thing or two on “I Am A Singer”. From dance, acoustic ballads, R&B heartache to a bit of reggae, ‘Just Listen’ widens the vocalist’s reach from pop-rock and melodramatic ballads. The closer “Sea Child” is a complete misstep for everyone involved, but what’s in this EP is a cohesive collection of Younha the artist, and Younha the singer. I’m glad this isn’t “Supersonic, Part 2”, but a point of growth from then till now.
|Just Listen (feat. Skull)||
|The Real Reason We Broke Up||
|There Was Spring||
|It’s Not That (feat. Naul)||
0 – could do without
0.5 – mediocre/filler
0.75 – pretty good/grew on me
1 – liked immediately
|One Fine Day||
Points to stars conversion: [(5.25/7) 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.