[HOT TRACK]Joy and happiness make for a dry song collection

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[HOT TRACK]Joy and happiness make for a dry song collection

It's not something I'm proud of, but I have to confess that some sad pop songs move me to tears. In particular, tearjerkers by the singer Lee So-ra get me all misty-eyed. In fact, tearjerkers by Lee So-ra get her misty-eyed, too -- she once burst into tears onstage singing her hit "Jebal" (Please), which is about begging a fickle lover to come back -- rumors had it that it's her own story. I recently picked up Lee's fifth album, "Diary," and steeled myself not to cry.

But after listening to the 11 tracks on the new release, I was rather disappointed, for they didn't test my stoicism at all. Though Lee has cemented her image with a lady-sings-the-blues style, now she sounds like she's steeped in joie de vivre. And the song titles confirm it: They include "The First Love," "Date" and "Happy Birthday." And while Lee's trademark is a soprano-like crooning voice, now she sings like a lighthearted pop chanteuse. She succeeds in proving that she's a mature vocalist, but that's just not her style.

The album opens with "Good-bye," which has a nice if unsophisticated melody -- but Lee's voice goes wobbly to the heavy piano accompaniment. After two mediocre mellow numbers is "The First Love." The track is undeniably cute and delightful, but it's just not vintage Lee.

Moving on, "Date" sounds like a fairy tale, and Lee starts to sound a bit awkward. Then she gets serious, crooning about loneliness on "Loner" and unrequited love on "To You, Who Don't Love Me." "Loner" is especially notable for its tense and impressive melody line in a minor key. The minor key mode goes on until the ninth track, "Days of Innocence," but suddenly transitions into a major key mode, where Lee becomes tenacious. In lyrics, she swears to go on no matter how hard life becomes, remembering the innocent days. She could have made that a tidy grand finale right there, but she didn't know when to quit. Tragically, she kept going with two more songs, the boring "Happy Birthday" and the dull "My Nymph."

The album is not conspicuously bad, but it doesn't even have one strong song. Lee writes on the artwork, "I'm the one who wants to stay the same, even while I always seek changes." This time, it would have been better if she had stayed the same, letting her fans keep crying her rivers.

by Chun Su-jin

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