I can’t help but sympathise with Jenny when she comments that 2007 was not an outstanding year. My own purchases of Korean music are somewhat random. When I’m guided by people I trust, more often than not I like what I hear. When buying what seems topical or in the news, I’m less than successful.
As an example of the rogues’ gallery of turkeys I’ve mistakenly bought this year: Ivy’s Second, of which the most complimentary thing I can think of to say is that there are some pretty pictures; Dynamic Duo’s Third; and Lexy’s Third, which has forced me to consider recalibrating my rating system, because Super Junior T’s debut is certainly more worthwhile. Better is Wheesung’s fifth – though blandly middle-of-the-road – while at least Yangpa’s fifth gets a mildly positive recommendation for swing lovers.
Having explored some of the recommendations of the LKL critics, I’ll certainly take recommendations from them again. But rather than simply repeat what they have said, my two additions to the list of albums of the year come with the recommendation of Jay Kim in AM Records in Manhattan’s Koreatown.
First up, an interesting fusion album from traditional singer Jang Sa Ik. His voice somehow manages to be mellow and craggy at the same time, while the arrangements involve Korean traditional instruments, jazz, and acoustic guitars – though thankfully not all at once. His fifth album (above left), released in December last year, is beautifully recorded and well worth the investment of time needed to get used to his sound world.
Secondly, an album I’ve already enthused about: Yi Sung-yol‘s Second: In Exchange (right). Intelligent songwriting, sensitive singing, with catchy melodies and a variety of styles. This has been in my CD player constantly in the last few months.