“RE:BORN” is Soyou’s first album as a soloist since Sistar’s disbandment earlier this year. The first part of the most likely two-part album was released on December 13th, and features several well-known names in its credits, including production by Primary and Yoon Jong-Shin, as well as a feature by veteran singer Sung Si-Kyung. Wintry and mellow, the album bounces from RnB to an acoustic ballad, creating a listenable and gentle, if forgettable, winter album for Soyou’s debut.
1. The Night feat. Geeks
The popular producer Primary, best known for his ubiquitous collaborations with both hip-hop musicians and idols, flexes his idol-producing muscles once again to create a groovy and nostalgic RnB track perfect for the holiday season, crafting a fresh and unexpected, yet mature and credible (and unmistakeably Primary) sound for his muse, in this case Soyou, something which he seems to have an uncanny ability for. With an outstanding instrumental, a decent melody and solid vocals and rap, “The Night” is far away the strongest song on the album, and sets out the winter theme confidently.
2. I Learned From You
Following up the title track is another song that feels nostalgic and old-school, produced by Yoon Jong-Shin; “I Learned From You” is a ballad recalling the 90s with retro electric pianos and a sentimental melody and chord sequence typical of Yoon Jong-Shin. Soyou’s performance is good and the song is relaxing, well-composed and continues the wintry vibe set out by the first track whilst contrasting nicely with a change of genre. Solid and self-assured, “I Learned From You” holds its own in the album and earns its place as the second track.
3. Good Person
Returning to the nostalgic RnB vibe, this time with an interesting flute riff, “Good Person” ends the first half of the album with a sensuous and jazzy track that shows off producer Cloud’s smooth beat-making. Unfortunately, there is not much to be said about the rest of the song; the vocal melody and Soyou’s performance are exactly what you would expect and leave little to no impression on the listener; nevertheless, a memorable flute riff and cosy arrangement help solidify the first half of the album as the stronger half.
4. I Need Warmth
Bouncing again to the slow ballads, Soyou brings us an emotional and unfortunately quite predictable ballad to pad out the second half of the album; while there are some interesting melodic highlights, like the final line of the chorus, for the most part “I Need Warmth” offers neither anything new nor exciting to the oversaturated world of ballads. That said, it’s still a well-written and listenable song which fits the relaxed and wintry vibe of the album.
5. 7 Years Old feat. MoonMoon
Composed by and featuring indie artist MoonMoon, “7 Years Old” is as innocent and sweet as the title suggests; an short 3-minute acoustic ballad full of bright major chords and sentimental melodies and harmonies between MoonMoon and Soyou. While the song is perfectly sweet in itself, its position in the album make it more forgettable than endearing, being the third ballad to appear out of five songs. In addition, the simple melodies suit MoonMoon’s raw indie-style voice more than it does Soyou’s more refined and stylised sound, which unfortunately makes her performance seem lacking in emotion and sincerity; as such, the song feels rather dull.
6. I Still feat. Sung Si Kyung
The final song in the album is the pre-released title track, “I Still”, featuring veteran singer Sung Si-Kyung. Yet another ballad, this one at least is a little more musically complex and well-developed; Sung Si-Kyung’s voice, well-trained in ballads, fits Soyou’s much better than MoonMoon’s, creating a twisting harmony with pleasantly contrasting vocal timbres. Indeed, Sung Si-Kyung’s voice somewhat outshines Soyou’s, though they do both manage to create their own distinct personas within the song. Acoustic guitars, pianos and strings make this another typical-sounding ballad, but its quality helps end the album on a relatively high note.
Overall, the album clearly tries to focus on Soyou’s established prowess as a ballad singer, with well-composed and performed ballads of a variety of genres; however, Soyou shines most in the album’s RnB experiments, most notably “The Night”. There are very few hints of innovation and experimentation, understandable for a new solo artist testing out the waters, but a move which unfortunately makes the album somewhat bland and uninteresting. Soyou’s performances, while solid and of a consistent quality, also don’t help this, failing often to display sincere emotions or more than one or two singing styles and techniques. Hopefully, Part 2 of the album will show a bit more adventurousness and explore a more unique and raw sound, particularly now that she is free as a soloist to find her own colours and musical niche.