I heard of yaya when she was part of a duo with 시야. I didn’t keep track of her work, but saw news that she would be working as a solo artist. Then I lost track of any updates until I saw the teaser for her album, Cruel Picture.
From the first track, “Murderer’s Song,” the album presents itself as something very different. The song starts with a French (I think it’s French) introduction and doesn’t really start with yaya’s vocals until around the second minute of a six and a half minute song. The teaser doesn’t really show off her talents like a full song can and just hearing her vocals on “Murderer’s Song,” I was entranced.
The arrangements of songs is incredibly dense. There are a lot of elements overlapping each other from a band to organs and strings all conveying a different emotion. yaya’s voice is one of the strongest I’ve heard in Korean music. It’s melodic, sultry, and evocative. Her Twitter profile describes herself as “GYPSY/WORLD MUSIC/JAZZ/CLASSIC/ROCK/TRIPHOP” which is accurate an description.
Moving from the first track to “Truth (feat. Shin Yoon Cheol)” it’s a slightly different style. She does sing in English on the song and the only real complaint is that her voice is hidden behind a filter so it doesn’t come across as clean. But she still manages to make her presence known.
It’s hard to describe Cruel Picture in an overview. The album contains thirteen original songs and one radio edit. There’s so much music to digest with this many songs. There are some standout tracks like “Fiction” which yaya also sings in English. Actually a lot of the album is sung in English. The only song I could recognize Korean easily was “Red Witch.”
Cruel Picture carries a dark and gothic theme throughout. yaya’s voice and the excellent song arrangements makes the album an amazing listen. It has a lot of haunting moments and requires repeated playthoughs to appreciate it all. Cruel Picture is an album that shouldn’t be miseed.