[Review] Se7en′s ′New Mini Album′ Marks Return to Roots
Whenever you think of Se7en, the first thing that comes to your mind is probably him grooving it up onstage to a strong-beat dance number.
He is, however, a generally well-rounded singer, with his previous singles covering R&B, dance and even electronic. And (somewhat surprisingly), his original roots are actually in the R&B genre.
His debut single Come to Me was overshadowed by his dance moves, complete with wheels on his kicks, but if you stop to think about it, it is actually a straight up R&B piece.
And so, his most recent mini album, with its R&B score by Park Jin Young When I Can′t Sing, can actually be said to be a return - a return to his original roots as an R&B vocalist.
Fittingly, the album’s mood is set with a smooth flow of gentle instruments, mostly through guitars and pianos. Electric guitars and synthesizers start off the album with a fresh and clean atmosphere in Somebody Else, while a repetitive low guitar riff, strings and strong percussions open up an expansion of the mood in Angel. The last few lines of Angel then wind down to a single piano accompaniment, running into the piano intro for When I Can’t Sing.
The thing that first hits you when you start listening to this first part of the album is Se7en’s voice. Although Se7en has been positioned as an R&B singer for this album and for most of his career, his voice seems to lack the captivating emotion usually found in R&B vocals and feels a bit more watery.
But, this becomes either a strength or a weakness, depending on the song. In the lighter songs and the higher notes, his voice flows closely with the song just like another instrument because it isn’t the strong, thick and compelling type, but it makes his more compelling pieces and low notes lack the strong echo they need. The low notes at the beginning of Somebody Else especially emphasize this characteristic. As soon as the album starts to play, they try to start it off with a strong base, but relief only comes after he starts to climb up the scale.
On the other hand, his watery vocals fit the mood of When I Can’t Sing. The lyrics and the melody portray an anxious and weak man standing in the shadow of the spotlight, and Se7en’s voice manages to deliver just that.
His voice is flexible enough to fit almost any type of song, and because of this, When I Can’t Sing becomes middle ground for YG and JYP, not being too JYP, but not being too YG either. In the end this may be marking a win for YG, however, (if there was a need to put one over the other) because ultimately, Se7en is from YG, and not many people take a look at the name of the composer when they listen to a song. This may have been what prompted Park Jin Young to include the infamous ‘JYP’ whisper in the beginning, although it gives the song an extra dent.
The next two songs, That Person and Understand, delve deeper into the piano R&B sphere. The short vocal bursts in the introduction of That Person for some reason give off a strong YG flavor, perhaps because they resemble similar bursts in Gummy’s Who Are You in her Loveless mini album. Understand tickles ears with its soft yet high bridge, and climaxes with a string accompaniment. Make Good Love then again picks up the tempo with its synthesizers and groovy beats, turning back toward the direction the album was going in the beginning.
The mini album, as a whole, is well-knit, with its songs flowing naturally from one track to another and from instrument to instrument. However, there are important aspects left wanting about the album, such as some parts of Se7en’s voice and the fact that the tracks run a bit too smoothly. When I Can’t Sing stands out because it’s the promotional single, but the others don’t really leave a big impression and roll right off the ears.
The album does, however, succeed in again bringing light to the fact that Se7en can sing and dance with equal emphasis on each, rather than just being a dancer who can sing on the side. The collaboration of JYP and YG was what made issues before the song’s release, but now that it has been released, it’s the song and Se7en himself that’s got the public listening in, and to this singer who’s singing about being forgotten after his prime goes by, that may be all that matters.
Photo credit: YG Entertainment
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