[HOT TRACK]Pretty singer proves she's more than a cheap trill

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[HOT TRACK]Pretty singer proves she's more than a cheap trill

"Beautiful" and "multitalented" are often antonyms, but not in the case of Kim Yun-a. Kim is the lovely lead singer of the local band Jaurim, which just released its fourth album.

The modern rock quartet, whose name means "the wood where the purple rain falls," rose from Seoul's underground music scene on the strength of Kim's style and charisma. Since the band's ascent from the live music clubs around Hongik University, Kim's pulchitrude has threatened to eclipse the music; she became a model for a cosmetics line and is considered a shoo-in for a successful acting career.

With its up-front photogenic treasure, the band almost became a mere vehicle to market images of Kim garbed in get-ups ranging from Barbie Doll duds to femme-fatale flash. But judging by the latest album, "04," Kim is too multitalented to let herself become a hollow TV diva. At once, the frontwoman and the band display a dazzling diversity of styles and a clear maturity in attitude.

Some music fans like to pigeonhole Jaurim and Kim by calling them the Cranberries of Korea. While Jaurim does sound at times like the popular Irish band, especially when Kim hits the Dolores O'Riordanesque trilling notes, the new album dispels the idea. The 12 distinctive tracks on the new disk transcend any such narrow categorization.

The album opens with "#1," in which Kim sings a plaintive song in English over a tempered guitar and bass that grows into a spicy and strong crescendo. On the second track, "Pray for Us," Kim is alternatingly a soprano and a soul singer in a phantasmal, heavy number. Next is a funky and jazzy piece, "Hey Guyz," marked by an up-tempo trumpet. The guitars shine on the mysterious yet uplifting fourth track, "Vlad," complemented by Kim's playful and powerful vocal.

And it only gets better: The jewel of the album is the fifth track, "Good Morning," when Kim sings poignantly in a minor key about the humdrum of daily life. The eighth cut, "Le Chamasique," is when the singer really exhibits the power of her voice, which becomes a rainbow of melodies that compel you dig deep for modifiers you reserve for something extraordinary, such as "bewitching." Purple rain indeed started to fall hard again.

by Chun Su-jin

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