Album Review: Park Hyo Shin’s I Am a Dreamer

Release Date : October 10, 2016

Tracklist :
Track List:
01. Home
02. Shine your light
03. Wonderland
04. Beautiful Tomorrow
05. The Dreamer (I am A Dreamer)
06. 야생화
07. HAPPY TOGETHER
08. Li-La (리라)
09. 숨
10. I`m your friend
11. 꿈
12. 꿈(Inst.)

Total Runtime: 00 : 58 : 05

Recommended for: Ballad lovers and uplifting, soulful numbers

NOT recommended for: People who are into dance, hip-hop, rap or the generic K-idol sound

Top Korean vocalist Park Hyo Shin pours out his experiences during a six-year drought since his last full album in “I Am a Dreamer”.

The 34-year-old ballad king’s long-awaited album includes singles released over the last two years and eight brand new tracks.

Hyo Shin explores a range of genres from bread-and-butter ballads and acoustics to indie, showing how far he has developed as an artist during his 17-year career.

“I Am a Dreamer” is an album for the ages and easily warrants a listen or two for all listeners.

Review

Track 1 – Home

Park Hyo Shin’s “I Am a Dreamer” begins with a Coldplay-esque, rock ballad. An uplifting piano plays at the start. Hyo Shin’s vocals are rough in the first verse, except for when he sings the line, “I wanna go home” in falsetto. The nostalgic chorus features numerous sustained belts and runs with a band playing in the background. He continues to use his laid back yet affectionate tone in the second chorus with a few little pretty change-ups. In the bridge, the instrumental becomes more intense as he comfortably serenades his message across. After a simple instrumental break and adlibs, he sings the final chorus. “Home” ends with big harmonies in the background and a rather throaty belt.

Track 2 – Shine Your Light

This medium tempo and inspiring track was released as a single in April 2015. It is a nice track to listen to in the morning. “Shine Your Light” begins with a chilled instrumental led by soft strumming of the guitar. In the chorus, a drumbeat is introduced to accompany Hyo Shin’s sweet vocals. Following the second verse, the tempo increases and so does the intensity of his vocals as he injects more power. In the final chorus, he dreamily wraps up the song with some delicate repetition of “Shine your light, baby”.

Track 3 – Wonderland
“Wonderland” makes a big impact from the get go as the jazzy Hyo Shin dramatically delivers the first line. The soulful female background vocals set the old school, 80’s feel to the song. His vocals become softer as he adds a bit of sexy head voice in the chorus. He maintains his sensual tone throughout but in the bridge, he turns up the vibe by singing one cheerful line and getting a reply from his background vocalists. It sounds like him performing at a jazz bar. He injects a bit more honey to his voice in the final chorus and ends with a few snazzy groove-worthy lines and claps.

Track 4/Title Track – Beautiful Tomorrow

“Beautiful Tomorrow” is the killer ballad we have all been waiting for from Captain Park since “Wild Flower”. It is different from the regular Korean ballads that he usually goes for, which is rather refreshing to hear. A sentimental tune is formed through the piano and strings at the beginning. Hyo Shin’s heartfelt vocals feature in the first verse, where he stays in a soothing low-chest range. In the chorus, the intensity rises starting with his first cry of the line, “Because of you”. The emotional pain creeps in the second verse and the second chorus, as he adds more power in his delivery. In the bridge, he packs a punch with bigger high notes and vocal runs. He ends on a soft note and one last complacent confession of “Because of you”.

Track 5 – The Dreamer (I am a Dreamer)
Hyo Shin tackles an indie style in this song. A simple acoustic guitar kicks off the song. He adopts a darker and desperate tone in the first verse. As “The Dreamer” enters the chorus, his vocals become stronger through mini belts and a slow run to finish the line, “The dream keeps going on”. In the bridge, he executes more resonant runs before winding down with the instrumental. There’s a quiet instrumental break where he delivers two dreamy runs in head voice. The song finishes with a delicate instrumental and no vocal lines, which kind of leaves the listeners wandering in darkness.

Track 6 –야생화 (Wild Flower)

One of the best ballads and strongest vocal performances Hyo Shin has ever delivered lies with this tearful ballad. Not many words need to explain the sheer perfection of this 2014 track. “Wild Flower” has been widely covered and loved by fans and people in the industry over the years. Just with a piano and resonant vocals, so many emotions can be drawn from the ballad. “Wild Flower” captures the sentimental feeling from the start, and gradually becomes more gripping. But it is the famous highlight bridge where the heartstrings are truly pulled and vocal slayage occurs. He dominates the trio of resonant high notes, which are at the top of his tenor range. The aftermath is even more emotional when the pain in his tone just attacks the insides. At the end, the blissful la-la-la’s calm down the rush of feels to finally allow us to take a breath.

Track 7 – Happy Together

“Happy Together” is a bright track that was released at the end of 2014. Hyo Shin begins the track with his graceful vocals, accompanied by a pleasant guitar tune. In the chorus, the mood is lightened further as the instrumental is more upbeat. The song continues its smooth, acoustic feel until the bridge arrives where he sings a few vocal runs. To finish up, he adds chilled adlibs without doing anything dramatic which fits the casualness of the song.

Track 8 – Li-La (리라)
This is another casual and chilled track. The beginning features a reggae-inspired instrumental and Hyo Shin’s no-fuss vocals. As the instrumental becomes more upbeat, he sings in a higher pitch in the chorus. There are a series of pretty la-la-la’s to end the chorus. “Li-La” is taken to another notch in the bridge where he executes a few resonant adlibs but without going overboard. He wraps up the songs by showing off his head voice and winding down with a few quiet runs.

Track 9 –숨 (Breath)

“Breath” was released as a B-side before the full release of “I Am a Dreamer”. It is a tearful and heartfelt ballad that exudes a depressing mood. A strong and affectionate piano tune and Hyo Shin’s rich low notes kick off the track. The tempo grows in the chorus along with his vocals, which sound more emotional. He introduces more resonance and sustained notes as the song progresses. In the bridge is where the vocals and piano truly tug onto the heartstrings. The final chorus lifts off the emotional baggage and wraps up the song beautifully.

Track 10 – I`m your friend
A mellow-sounding acoustic guitar plays in the first verse and is accompanied by Hyo Shin’s delicate vocals. There is an honest feel to the song. He easily transitions from his chest to falsetto registers ahead of the chorus. The chorus continues the touching vibe, where he focuses on delivering his message rather than going for too much. In the highlight bridge, the instrumental becomes slightly sadder to match his emotional vocals. He ends the song with a few high notes before expressing his love to his friend.

Track 11-꿈 (Dream)
The final song of “I Am a Dreamer” starts like a bedtime song through a sweet piano instrumental. Hyo Shin delivers his dreamy serenade in the first verse. The chorus is rather sentimental compared to the light beginning but it is still consistent with the dreamy mood. A violin is introduced in the bridge to make the climax more interesting, but the vocals steer away from big belts. The final chorus features a lovely combination of violin and piano to send us to bed.


 

Park Hyo Shin justified the agonizing wait for new music in this album. The eight new tracks prove how his musicality has developed since his last album. His music in “I Am a Dreamer” is rather versatile, as there are both classic ballads and bright numbers. Despite his great vocal technique, most of the songs on this album are not vocal-centric except for “Wild Flower”. It may be good to have 12 tracks as vocally dominant like the former but it would not bring us chilled and smooth tracks such as “Li-La” and “I’m your friend”.

The negative would probably be his choice to sing with a less clean and throatier approach at times. Now, that may be just a stylistic choice or a tiring vocal condition but this is just to dig out the little details. Another negative is overusing la-la-la’s. Otherwise, “I Am a Dreamer” is one of the best releases of the year and fits nicely on the upper echelon of Park Hyo Shin’s discography.

greenReplayability -GREEN
Can be played non-stop

greenCohesiveness– GREEN
Flowed well as the different tempo tracks were well placed

greenOriginality– GREEN
God Hyo Shin produced songs that fitted his own unique music colour

krusty95
OH!Press' resident journo

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