As popular as Jessi has become for her rapping and, well, general persona, it’s sometimes easy to forget that her real forte is as a vocalist. She’s reminded us of this through solo releases here and there, but those songs have generally been pretty forgettable when compared to her work as part of hip-hop group Lucky J or her many stints as a featured artist on others’ tracks.
Thankfully, Excessive Love goes a long way in cementing Jessi’s status as a solo singer. The track makes full use of her characteristic, husky vocals, and the production carries a dark, mournful aura. String sections add a sense of gothic drama to what is otherwise the type of downbeat, slightly hip-hop influenced ballad most familiar to fans of YG artists. The instrumental touches — a piano embellishment here, a pulse of violin there — give the song much needed character and life.
That said, the real star here is Jessi’s vocal performance, particularly in that rousing middle eight where she gets to cut loose. Elsewhere, she imbues the track with a soulful sound that highlights her unique phrasing and style. It’s different from most Korean ballads, but that’s what makes her such an interesting performer. She’s able to tease out extra hooks with something as simple as a change in intonation or tone. When she sings, you can’t help but sit up and pay attention. That kind of talent can’t be taught, and is just waiting for the right song to become unstoppable. This isn’t quite the song, but we’re getting closer.