Ryu Jisu debuted in 2018 and has been pretty active ever since. She’s released a handful of singles between her longer-form releases, the most recent of which is the 2021 EP Words from the remain. I was first struck by Ryu’s impressive voice control and unique vibrato, which she uses somewhat sparingly for effect. If you haven’t listened to her work before, I’d say this EP is a good place to start due to its brevity and the breadth of genres.
The opener, “Words from nothing,” is a gentle ballad that first came on the scene in 2018. It primarily uses the piano and violin, with what I believe to be a traditional Korean string instrument cropping up later on. There are few lyrics interspersed between musical interludes, all of which are haunting but lovely.
Ryu’s voice suits the string instruments and at times mirrors them, the two echoing back and forth. Her vocal control and strong vibrato make for an elegant yet powerful and emotional song.
The tone shifts for the second track. “Limbo” leans more into bedroom pop, with breathy vocals and an airy atmosphere. She still brings out her unique vibrato for the chorus, however, giving it a more punchy sound. It’s a dreamlike song about preparing for heartbreak. The traditional string elements remain here, but are slightly synthesized and enveloped in the otherwise electronic soundscape.
“Red Move” continues along the vein of city pop but takes on more EDM qualities. While it’s far from a pure dance track, it’s definitely more high energy than the previous two tracks with pop elements. It’s the shortest track on the EP but has some of the most interesting adlibs accompanying the refrain and a fun beat drop later on. There’s a sense of drama to the whole song which doesn’t make it feel out of place in an EP with more emotional, somber tracks.
Ryu Jisu returns to ballad stylings in “Wish you,” (another song from 2018) but her voice is similarly breathy to how she sings in “Limbo.” It adds a delicate air to her otherwise somewhat intense vibrato, softening the atmosphere of the track. With pretty choral harmonies accompanying a soft guitar riff and later drums and piano, it merges the two sounds we’ve heard from her so far on the EP in a beautiful, satisfying way.
The closer, “Bitter’fly (feat. Jay Moon),” goes back to bedroom pop like “Limbo,” but also takes after R&B sounds. The addition of rapper Jay Moon brings freshness into the track, as his more quick-paced stylings contrast pleasantly with Ryu’s elegant and drawn-out notes.
This EP proves Ryu Jisu’s flexibility as an artist. Whether you’re a fan of more dramatic, string-based ballads or lowkey bedroom pop, you’re sure to find something you like in her discography.
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