Jaejoong Kim – I
Label: C-Jes Entertainment
Release Date: 17 January 2013
- One Kiss
- Mine [MV]
- 내안 가득히 (There’s Only You)
- 나만의 위로 (Healing for Myself)
- All Alone
I’ll start by saying this: Kim Jaejoong’s voice is a masterpiece, a complex portrayal of raw emotion that twists and turns, navigating listeners through something completely unlike the whimpering mewls of teen heartthrobs. What most remember of his idol days seems to melt into a hazy oblivion once he takes his first steps into decidedly more adult fare. Those new to Kim Jaejoong will at first be a bit skeptical given his appearance, more flower boy than soul rocker. However, once he opens his voice, there’s a moment of tentative recognition, then shock as they come to the realization that, yes, the man’s voice is powerful.
Though comparatively smoother than veterans of the genre, his almost dove-like coo wraps around grit and fire to produce a complicated contradiction of sound: at once light and soft, and then rough and textured as if run through with the jagged shards of a broken heart.
Tackling a genre so blatantly disparate from anything he’s done before is a gamble. He would either be lauded for his audacity or condemned for treading on territory reserved for those with more rugged musical pasts. However, Jaejoong takes the gamble hands first. Having written and co-produced every song on the EP, he was not afraid to delve deeper into himself to give listeners an unfettered view of the humanity underneath the public persona. Such an unbridled unveiling of self runs the risk of becoming self-indulgent, even maudlin. However, the sincerity in the vocal brings the lyrics to a shimmering newness that’s a testament to his absolute need to purge whatever lay trapped in his soul.
Of course, the album would be nothing if not for the brilliant co-production and composition of Kim Bada, an artist in the rock genre well-renowned for his emotive lyrics and layered compositions. Jaejoong had the foresight to realize he needed to enlist the council of someone who built his career on writing music free of inhibitions, someone who could find the core of his emotions and bring them out in stark fashion.
With Bada’s artistry, song Mine roars and claws free of any sort of restraints that may have kept Jaejoong from attempting to make music as raw as this. The track is classic rock music, blaring and open. Jaejoong weaves his vocals through the composition as if it were the only means to tell a story he’s been waiting to tell. It’s also the album’s most complex composition, complete with wailing guitars, throaty drum backing, and lilting piano chords. However, lead single One Kiss shows us his range. He’s renowned for being all emotion, but One Kiss lets us see that he’s also got a rich textural tone to his voice, a robustness that may get lost in its softness.
He errs on the side of classic balladry with the two middle tracks, fare not unfamiliar to Jaejoong, thus revealing nothing new to us. All Alone, for its part, is a gorgeous song, markedly a bit more mature than the previous two, closing the album on a ringing memento whose notes linger and sting the ears long after the album has closed.
Kim Jaejoong’s debut mini-album is a beautiful look into the man’s heart and unveiling of his vocal range when unbound by a genre that tends to be very restricting. It’s at moments unspectacular, at others brilliant to the point of bursting through its digital mapping. However, no matter if some of the songs are vintage or his more fearless side, I, as the title suggests, is completely and wholly Kim Jaejoong.
Standout Tracks: One Kiss, Mine, All Alone