[HOT TRACK]A Break From Love's Travails

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[HOT TRACK]A Break From Love's Travails

For young Koreans eager to wallow in the bittersweet romance of stories of unattainable love, owning at least one album by the balladeer Yoon Jong-shin, 35, is a must.

Yoon, who made his debut in 1990, made listeners swoon when he crooned about his own stories of disappointed love:

I heard that you are happy

Thanks to you, I found out

Just how easily broken is

My foolish heart...

Congratulations on your

Wedding, though it's a bit late

He sings these self-deprecating words in "Jalhat-eoyo" ("You Did the Right Thing"). The album carrying this wretched love song could not have been more appropriately titled: "A Guide to Those Who Have Said Goodbye."

His new release, however, does not provide heartbroken lovers with more of the romantic catharsis they may be looking for.

Rather, on his ninth release titled "Geuneul" ("Shade"), Yoon now sings about how to enjoy summer days. He even makes a song out of a recipe for patbingsu, a Korean summer dish made of flaked ice, red bean paste and syrup.

"My previous songs were indeed melancholy, but I am actually quite a positive person inside," Yoon said of his new release. And the noticeable lack of plaintive lyrics among these 12 tracks is not all bad. The title track starts with the shrieks of a cicada, bringing to mind lazy evenings at the height of summer. "Haebyeon Mood Song" ("Beach Mood Song") has a pleasing rhythm, capturing the listener's attention. Yoon obviously put a lot of work into this release, writing lyrics and helping the production.

But these summer ditties won't pass muster with many of Yoon's ardent fans. His voice retains a veneer of sadness that just reminds listeners of where his talents really lie: in the crooning ballad. The album ultimately will just make most listeners nostalgic for his sad old days.

Not just what he sings, but the way he sings it has also changed. In former releases, he left an impression that he was permanently overwhelmed with emotion; his manner often appeared overindulgent, verging on disagreeably saccharine. In the new release, however, Yoon finally seems to have developed control of his voice, making it far more pleasing.

If only he would put this improved voice to better use in some more ballads on his next release.

by Chun Su-jin

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