Intrepid musician takes new ‘Journey’

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Intrepid musician takes new ‘Journey’

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Thomas Cook, formerly of My Aunt Mary, is back with a new solo album after a 10-year hiatus. [JoongAng Ilbo]

After singer-songwriter Thomas Cook parted ways with his band, My Aunt Mary, he gave himself a new name and embarked on a solo career. But after releasing his first album 10 years ago, he decided he need a break to shift gears from what he had done with the band to what he wanted to accomplish as a solo artist.

Now he is back with a second solo album, “Journey,” released last month, which he feels is representative of his new outlook on music and life. The album is also reminiscent of the name he chose for himself, which was inspired by the 19th century entrepreneur who founded one of the first travel agencies in the world.

The album is filled with music that Cook, formerly known as Jung Soon-yong, hopes people will carry around with them wherever they go.

“I want people to take my music everywhere,” Cook said.

The music is more mellow and subdued than what he played with My Aunt Mary, which Cook says is a result of his creative process.

“After taking such a long break, I had to be extremely cautious with this album,” Cook said. “I didn’t rush things and stayed calm as I was making it. I also felt less burdened after retiring as the leader of My Aunt Mary, and my music has become a lot more relaxed and peaceful as a result.”

Cook made his debut as the lead singer of My Aunt Mary in 1999, writing many of the band’s songs.

He had long aspired to be a singer, but he didn’t have much success until a menial job at a record company pushed him into action.

“I once worked at a record company taping thousands of labels onto CDs and transporting boxes in and out of the offices. And I just thought, ‘None of these CDs is mine. Why is that?’” he said. “So I decided to concentrate on my own music. I was so desperate that I needed music to get me through life. I am still not well off, but that doesn’t matter much.”

My Aunt Mary was praised for its outstanding musicality and won two awards at the Korea Music Awards in 2005 - album of the year and best modern rock album of the year.

But his long-term commitment to the band became burdensome, and the members decided to go their separate ways. Bassist Han Jin-young and drummer Park Jung-joon left to pursue their own projects while Cook decided to go solo.

After releasing his first solo album, “Time Table,” in March 2001, Cook decided he needed time to refocus his creative energies.

It was 10 years before he was ready for his next album, but it has been worth the wait. The music on the new album is as Cook imagined - music that fits into almost any setting, at home or in a swanky lounge, on the road or beyond.

Cook wrote the music and lyrics for the tracks on the second album, which are backed by a guitar and piano.

The album was produced by Kim Dong-ryul, a singer-songwriter in his own right. Kim even plays piano on one of the tracks, “On My Way Home.”

“I have learned a lot about music working with Kim,” Cook said. “He taught me that a good singer-songwriter knows how to express something about his personal life through music.”


By Jung Kang-hyun [estyle@joongang.co.kr]

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