After the magnificent Tree of Life, Park Ji Yoon cemented her position as an indie artist. It was an adult record, shedding the last remnants of her idol past and any doubts that her singer-songwriter path was a phase in her career. Recently, however, Ms. Park joined MYSTIC89, the label headed up by producer-extraordinaire, Yoon Jong Shin, leading to her appearing on his Monthly Melody series.

Starting with “Goodbye,” September’s Monthly Melody release, Park Ji Yoon entered the adult-contemporary realm, which continues on her latest single, “Mr. Lee.” This single marks a new phase in her career, adding some light-hearted pop to her moody adult catalogue.


As part of her deal with MYSTIC89, Ji Yoon will be releasing singles on a seasonal rotation. For this fall, she worked with Primary, the producer of the moment, in the most pop-oriented track since her JYP Entertainment days, “Mr. Lee”. One of the good things about Primary is his ability to tailor his musical aesthetic for the artists he’s worked, whether it’s by increasing the bass for the idols or multiplying the synths for Zion.T.

For “Mr. Lee”, the much sought after producer turns down the bass and electronic motifs to give the song a whimsical vibe. The composition works well with Ji Yoon’s thin voice, which floats effortlessly along the horn-infused track. As Primary tracks go, “Mr. Lee” is simple, and with Park Ji Yoon, that pairing down is akin to the little black dress, clean and sophisticated.

The B-side, “목격자 (Touch),” Park Ji Yoon stretches her voice on this Yoon Jong Shin ballad. Combining aspects of smooth jazz and string pop melodies, “Touch” is a new take on ballads for Ji Yoon. In past tracks, she would sustain her high notes without fluctuation, but they have a new dimension here on this B-side. Park Ji Yoon’s voice rings with life, much like a violin in masterful hands. The lyrics are delivered rich with emotion that can’t contain themselves, but remain constrained with the lack of a clear climactic point. The result is a beautifully sung ballad, emotive while not careening into melodrama.

Park Ji Yoon’s new path into more adult pop is a tentative one, and with good results. Working with big names like Primary adds a fun bounce to her moody material of late, while continuing her pattern of mature pop sensibilities with Yoon Jong Shin. It will take time to see how successful the seasonal release schedule will be, but with a great start in “Mr. Lee”, the future seems bright.

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