2016 is truly the musical gift which keeps on giving. Much to my delight, the past week has seen the musical comeback of Korean R&B icon Hwayobi treating us to her first studio album in six years!
As Hwayobi‘s album title might suggest, 8 is, in fact, the eighth studio album from the K-R&B veteran. What an impressive feat this is, considering the ‘mini album’ preference so prevalent in the Korean music industry, and the fact that she debuted in the year 2000.
8 is somewhat of a triumphant release for the diva, who had an extremely messy legal battle with her old record label last year. But thanks to Universal Music, she is now back and stronger than yesterday, a message she so proudly declares in the album’s glorious title track “I’m Back”. The album cover is pretty much the perfect representation of Hwayobi’s musical style this time around – subdued and delicate, with a compelling focus on Hwayobi’s renowned husky and poignant voice (think Park Bom, but not as sharp).
…so basically, 8 is ballad central. But don’t allow this to put you off! There are a few ‘upbeat’ numbers, such as the funky and sophisticated new version of her previous hit “Closer” and the wildly fierce East4A (!!!) remix of “Don’t Answer My Call”. But the ballads are all incredibly emotive in their own distinctive ways. If anything, they’re worth a spin purely so you can treat your ears to Hwayobi’s amazingly gorgeous and sublime vocals intertwined with lush strings and sorrowful piano melodies.
Above all, 8 is a welcome addition to an already impeccable discography from one of Korea’s finest vocalists and musicians. Hwayobi is on top form with this record, which is a stellar achievement so far into her career.
Hwayobi – 8 track list (highlights in bold):
02. 제가 돌아왔어요
03. 열 번에 한번
04. 가까이서 보니 미인이네 (Album Ver.)
05. 연애는 하니..?
06. 만약에 우리 둘 중 하나라도
07. 양치기 소녀
08. 꿈은 참 예쁘다
09. 그 새벽 한강에서
11. 내 전화 받지마 (East4A Mix)
12. 연애인 (Inst.)
13. 제가 돌아왔어요 (Inst.)