[HOT TRACK]Spring brings weeds, as well

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[HOT TRACK]Spring brings weeds, as well

In China, eight is the most fortuitous of numbers, symbolizing prosperity and productivity. But Kim Hyun-chul is not a Chinese recording artist. And his newly released, eighth album, "...And Kim Hyun-chul," is a big yawner.

Kim, 34, has been at the forefront of the adult contemporary music scene for more than a decade. His style can be described as easy listening spiced with jazzy elements, but some people in the business respect him as a style trailblazer. After debuting in 1989 with the mass appeal ballad "A Train For Chuncheon," he survived a traffic accident, then went on to build a solid career.

That career spans singing, songwriting and producing. Of the three, Kim's forte is songwriting; he has a following of young junior musicians who call him their mentor. For the latest album, Kim recruited 11 of them, culling talent ranging from the the vocalist of a candy pop girl band to underground rock figures.

With such talent on board, it would be fair to expect something fresh and inspired. But this album falls flat. Kim seems to have focused on promoting relations with his acolytes instead of breaking new musical ground. The lyrics, usually Kim's strong suit for being sentimental but intelligent, are just tedious love stories. On one of the least bearable tracks, Kim sings of an innocent 21-year-old girl, "She is too young for me to love." It's hard to believe that this is the same Kim Hyun-chul who used to express the subtleties of love so adroitly.

The fourth track, "Spring Is Coming" ("Bomi Wa"), features the smoothster band Roller Coaster, but completely wastes the band's silky vocalist. The melody line is clear but tired, and Kim's voice clashes with the band.

To be fair, a couple of tracks have merit, namely "Son of a Fisherman" ("Eobueui Adeul") and "Caribbean Cruise." The first features the hard rock vocalist Park Wan-kyu and his explosive voice. Opening and interspersed with the tranquil combination of waves, seagulls and a trumpet solo, the song builds powerfully to tell the tale of a deserted lover. "Caribbean Cruise," an instrumental number featuring the jazz band Spring Summer Autumn Winter, is the final song, and at least leaves a good aftertaste.

"Spring comes, even though I don't expect it to. It seemed it would never come again ... Spring is coming again," goes the first page on the CD booklet. Yes, the calendar confirms it is indeed spring. But Kim's creativity seems to be stuck in the depths of a long, dark winter.

by Chun Su-jin

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