If there’s anything that marks the shift from summer to autumn in K-Pop, it’s the clear change in the mood of its musical output. Music is a little more chill and a bit more intimate. Ballads reign supreme, and as Winter approaches, more are bound to sprout along the way. With this in mind, it comes as no surprise that Park Hyo Shin, one of South Korea’s leading vocalists, decided to drop his highly anticipated seventh studio album this week, titled I Am A Dreamer, jump-starting a potential downpour of ballads as moodier vibes grow in season.
As expected, the album has struck the right chord with fans. It also marks the return of Park to the top of the charts. It’s a feat that comes easy for the crooner, whose meaningful lyrics and gut-wrenching singing connects easily with listeners. In 2014, “야생화,” a standout single that found a home on this album, was a smash hit on the charts that was able to knock top-tier idols off their 1st place positions with the sheer force of a ballad. This concentrated power is back and in full swing on I Am A Dreamer.
From the album’s earliest tracks, it’s pretty clear that Park’s goal with this project is to set in motion a journey to discover the varying impacts of love and inner strength. Park paints a magical landscape above the clouds in the album’s opener (“Home“). At times, his voice echoes in the distance, as if he’s soaring at high altitudes, then pans back into focus singing sweetly and comfortably. Park explores love’s groundless effects further in “Shine Your Light.” Here, Park performs against a soothing, groovy backdrop, repeating lines like, “I dream again in this deep night when you shine your light,” reassuringly. In the dazzling, “Wonderland,” Park demonstrates a remarkable ear for classic rhythm-and-blues. The song’s composition reflects the richness that you’d find across music from the likes of Marvin Gaye, and Park sells it well with a passionate delivery. These three songs flow easily next to each other; they’re warm and soulful. Whereas, the few songs that follow navigate an entirely different set of tones and emotions.
“Beautiful Tomorrow” and “야생화,” for instance, usher in the vocal prowess that Park Hyo Shin is known for. In “Beautiful Tomorrow,” a piano and string section follow Park’s belted lead as he fleshes out mixed feelings of regret about a failed relationship. It’s the singer’s most recent power ballad, yet it is still outmatched by “야생화,” in both its composition and vocal performance. “야생화” is a chilling song that capitalizes on Park Hyo Shin’s full vocal range. He begins softly, pairing the image of a flower “hiding in the cold wind” with airy strings and gentle melodies. By the song’s middle 8, the 50-piece orchestra (that he omitted in the single’s music video above) is performing ferociously and Park is delivering one of his most ambitious measures on the album. To hear how far Park stretches his chest voice here is impressive, and it’s moments like this that make it easy to understand why this singer is able to captivate people with his voice alone.
On songs like “Happy Together,” we’re guided through a mid-tempo that focuses on self-motivation, and Park Hyo Shin expresses as much in a soft manner. However, on “숨,” the album’s lead single, Park takes in just a bit more air to let out compelling notes that are amplified by a heavy piano lead. What’s intriguing about this song is that the climax was shifted back to where the second verse would be. This causes the song to build in intensity a lot sooner, then trickle down as the song comes to a close. Interestingly, the album is set up in much of the same way; its strongest moment (“야생화”) is dead in the center, followed by tracks that are a bit more scaled back in comparison. It’s as tumultuous of an album as it needed to be, and that’s what ultimately makes this a fantastic album to listen to. I Am A Dreamer hits all the right notes when dealing with moments of perseverance, resilience, and love and Park Hyo Shin ties everything together with uplifting warmth and clutter-free arrangements that will most likely leave you caught up in your emotions for a while.
Genre: Ballad | Release Date: 10/3/16
Credit: This article was originally written for and published on Music Mind (Source).