Song Yi Jeon is a vocalist from South Korea whose voice and music can be as ethereal as ectoplasm or as penetrating as a laser. She recalls the mystical flexibility of Sheila Jordan and the raucous improvisations of Patty Waters in her sound but comes up with her own brand of hypnotic beauty.
On this CD, only two songs have lyricsthe opening track, the standard "Invitation," and the closing track, a Korean folk song. On the rest, Jeon treats her voice as a malleable wordless instrument. On "Spring," she swoops high and low keeping pace with Kenji Herbert's guitar and Vitor Gonçalves' piano and, on "Nabily," she echoes Gonçalves' more formal, baroque piano with Bach-like scatting reminiscent of the Swingle Singers. "The Third Land" moves along on a stuttering prog-rock rhythm as Jeon flies around like Flora Purim, with Herbert contributing prickly guitar. On "Some Sort Of," she glides over Peter Slavov's nimble bass line then, after Slavov solos, falls into more relaxed, full-bodied jazz scatting as the rhythm section gives her lightly rustling support.
Two pieces comment on recent events in Korea: "November Anger" is dedicated to the Candlelight Revolution, a series of protests against the South Korean president, and is a turbulent storm of relentless piano riffing and crashing drums, invaded by a menacing sweep of guitar and voice that increases in intensity until Jeon is screaming like a siren by the end; In contrast, "Blue Sea"about the 2014 Sewol Ferry Disaster that killed over 300 peopledeals with sorrow and mourning instead of anger, with its fabric of echoing moans, distant piano chords, and creaking noises that all evoke a feeling of sinking underwater.
For all the enchanting things she can do just using her voice as an instrument, Jeon does well with lyrics too. She sings the words of "Invitation" with lilting clarity and the occasional banshee wail in an arrangement full of sinister atmosphere. On the closing folk song "Jungsun Arirang," she unleashes the power of her voice as she wails forcefully in Korean against a crashing rock rhythm and hard-bitten, whirling electric guitar.
Song Yi Jeon is an impressive vocalist who can use her voice to create all kinds of sounds and moods with or without words. Whether creating evocative soundscapes or just wailing with her band, she is formidable.
Invitation; Spring - Movement of Lives; Pado, il lung i da.; Nabily; November Anger; Blue Sea; The Third Land; Some Sort Of;
Song Yi Jeon: voice, composition, arrangement; Kenji Herbert: guitar; Vitor Goncalves: piano; Peter Slavov: bass (1,2,5,6,7,8,);
Jongkuk Kim: drums; (1,2,5,6,7,8); Jonathan Marianer: bass (9); Philippe Lemm: drums (9); Rogerio Boccato: drums (3,4).
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