Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Review: Hana Kim - Exodo

I don't believe individuals need to make a good first impression. We're subject to so much shit day in and day out that if we meet someone for the first time, and say its a day where maybe your car had a case of spontaneous combustion or maybe you were mauled by a stray bear, chance is, you're going to have an off day and that person can forgive you next time they meet you. Music isn't as forgiving. You have really one chance to make people either like what you're doing or despise what you're doing, and that's a much harder angle to work with. Fortunately, with Exodo, Hana Kim makes a fine first impression.

Hana Kim is not your prototypical singer/songwriter type. While some of the music might seem like pretty standard fair, what really struck home while listening to this album was the variety of sounds she was able to create. Typically, you face the wrath of of someone who plays solely acoustic music (and poorly at that) or you take your chances with someone who has a god complex, meaning they make their name the band name and probably have so much creative control over everything that you have to wonder if they paid the musicians to help them make their songs in the first place (Mostly because the music sucks). Kim, thankfully, doesn't succumb to either of these fates.

"Caravan", despite it not being the official single on the album, felt like one because of the atmosphere it manages to create. Normally, I wouldn't say songs with pianos as the only instrument would be up my alley, but this one feels dreamy. Mixed with Kims vocals, it really pulls an upset over the desired single "Mexico", which gets a double billing with an acoustic version later in the album. "Mexico" has that lounge-like indie rock vibe going for it, making it quiet but enjoyable, but it doesn't have the same power "Caravan" does. It's the smallest of complaints because she could have just had another song on her album instead of trying to force home her love for "Mexico". 

"Give It Up" and "Ruins" are subdued little numbers that showcase Kims vocal talents, which never takes long for you to notice. They have a jazz vibe to them, driving home the notion of that she feels at home singing in some hip lounge bar. Although the music never really takes center stage in these songs, it doesn't have to, because when you're a project all about the voice, the music takes a backseat to everything else. Still, it's usually decent enough to warrant a listen, and it's clear the musicians are talented, so they deserve some recognition as well.

Injecting some dance-like beats into the album is "I'd Do It Again", a slightly disco influenced track that is a breath of fresh air from the rest of the relatively easy going songs. It doesn't go all ABBA on you, but the guitar uptick is very reminiscent of the genre, and if I saw a disco ball come out during a performance of this song, I'd find it very fitting. "The Sun Stands Still" felt like a song Feist would make, overlapping acoustic guitar riffs with moody, harmonic vocals. It's catchy, but doesn't fall to repetitiveness, never overstaying its welcome long enough to do so.

Exodo is one of those albums I didn't know how I'd react to, but came away surprised with. While the musical styles aren't what I'd call favorites of mine, the album rubbed off on me in just the right way to make me more appreciative of them as a whole. Kim is very talented, and while some of the songs don't quite have the soul to them I was hoping, they maintain a sense of professionalism and class that keeps you interested the whole way through. I hope she continues doing what she does, and explores the world of music thoroughly, because with her skill, there's no telling what she could do with it. - Shane

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