NOTE: Since publishing this piece, it has come to my attention that Soulights’ lead singer, Jeong Eun Seon, is still part of the band. This oversight is my fault, and a new review is in the works to better reflect the facts. I am sorry to the readers of Korean Indie for this.
Since Soulights’ debut record Seoulitude in 2012, Jung Eun Sun parted ways with the band, and Kim Hye Hyun came on board shortly thereafter. The change was abrupt, considering soon after the record’s release the band lost its singer. The new Soulights took their time to figure out how to incorporate Hye Hyun into their R&B-pop style and the result was Solace. An EP with solid production and vocals, “Solace” showcases the band in a new and familiar light.
As a singer, Kim Hye Hyun is solid, with good vocal control and emotive power to pull off the songs. The breezy opener, “Good Afternoon,” features a high register Hye Hyun singing softly and calmly, lulling you into complacency; her voice doesn’t stretch much, if at all. Much of the time I’m not a fan of this, since vocal range is best shown growing within one song, but Soulights plays with her voice, from high on “Good Afternoon,” to full on in “슬픔은 나의 몫,” and husky and heart-rending on “사랑을 지킬 힘도 없이 너무 쉽게 마음을 헤집었네.”
By spreading out her range in this way, Hye Hyun shows not only how wide she can go, but how well she can sing within each region of her voice. This makes each track of “Solace” a surprise to listen to, and a pleasant one at that.
For their part, the band isn’t stretching in any new ways, staying within the confines of their R&B-pop style they created for “Seoulitude.” The electric guitar and keys on “Good Afternon” add a touch of playfulness, while the cello that introduces “사랑을 지킬 힘도 없이 너무 쉽게 마음을 헤집었네” hints at the depths the track will go. Other than those accents, Soulights remains the same. Hopefully with Kim Hye Hyun, the band will evolve in sound in future releases.
On this go around, “Solace” is the result of a new group finding its footing, seeing where the pieces fall, and they go nicely. Even though Hye Hyun isn’t the powerhouse Jung Eun Sun is, she does good work on “Good Afternoon’ and “거리마다 계절마다,” and exceeds expectations on the superb closer “사랑을 지킬 힘도 없이 너무 쉽게 마음을 헤집었네”. Overall, “Solace” is a pleasing R&B-pop EP for a band with a solid foundation to build a steady career in the Korean R&B scene.