When I was in middle school, my instrument was the trumpet, by mistake. When picking, I mistook the saxophone for the smaller horn, and said trumpet out loud. It was a fortunate mistake because I love the trumpet now. How a three-valve tool can produce “Blue In Green” in the hands of Miles Davis dazzles me years after I first encountered it. I stopped playing the trumpet after several years, but it was through that decision that I enjoy jazz and classical music to this day, so it was a mistake well made.

Sunwoo Jung-A

It was a similar name problem that led me to Sunwoo Jungah. My first thought was the leader of After School, but I was wrong. On her second full-length record, “It’s Okay, Dear,” Sunwoo Jungah continues to marry pop-jazz with singer-songwriter sensibilities for wonderful effect.

On the record, Jungah takes both an earnest and cheeky approach to writing, with her band right at her heels. On tracks like “Purple Daddy” and “알 수 없는 작곡가,” the record blends electronics with a jazz ensemble style, which creates a tension of believability. Is this a record to be taken literally or with irony?

That interplay comes to its zenith in “Workaholic,” a quirky take on the money chase theme. The sound is absurd, with loose horns and offbeat drumming, sounds highlighted in the hook, “more work, more money, more tobacco, more drinks.” It’s the wackiest “It’s Okay Dear” gets, but it’s good to hear an artist have a sense of humor about herself this early in her catalog.

To balance that zanier side, Sunwoo Jungah wears her heart on her sleeve when she has to. On the song, “당신을 파괴하는 순간,” a simple horn and drums combination gives her the stage to shine. Jungah’s voice, when it’s good, sparkles. There’s a refined rasp to her voice, one that goes from small to big with ease.

The ballad showcases that transition, but it gets better on her cover of the pop classic, “You Are So Beautiful.” The intimate soundscape is atmospheric, meant for couples and her voice pairs well with the bass guitar riff throughout the song. It speaks to her talent that a song like “You Are So Beautiful” goes side by side with “Workaholic” and you can believe her at every turn. Irony and earnestness are not put-ons for Jungah, just facets of life that she executes smoothly on “It’s Okay, Dear.”

In her second LP, Sunwoo Jungah blends child-like energy with adult contemporary jazz sounds to seamless effect, like in the tracks “비온다,” “주인공의 노래,” and “울지마.” The record has all the sound fit for fall, but an energy that lifts it out of the Korean seasonal music trend for a good release for Sun Woo Jung Ah.

Sunwoo Jungah on Facebook.
Sunwoo Jungah on Twitter.

Contributed to McRoth’s Residence with a focus on Korean indie and hip-hop music.