Kim Jaehwan really surprised me back in May, but it had nothing to do with his title track. Begin Again was a fairly straightforward K-ballad, bettered by Jaehwan’s immense talent. However, the rest of the album unveiled a diverse set of styles, including the brilliant funk-pop blast of Designer. Sure, Kim Jaehwan can rattle off a ballad with panache, but he’s an absolute revelation when paired with upbeat material. There’s a gap in the market for this kind of performer, and I’d hate to see his potential wasted on more straightforward fare.
Unfortunately, that’s what’s happened with The Time I Need (시간이 필요해). Jaehwan’s new album Moment isn’t as strong as his debut, but it’s almost as varied. Yet, the powers that be have once again chosen the most generic track to lead promotions. The Time I Need has a bit more swing to it than Begin Again, but it never delivers the kind of fireworks we’ve heard in Jaehwan’s best work. The track positions him as Korea’s answer to Sam Smith, infusing the instrumental with an understated r&b pulse that allows him to bring a touch of soul to his performance.
I’m not really sold on this transformation. The Time I Need is fine, but it never really goes anywhere. With vocals as formidable as Jaehwan’s, I would’ve expected the song to build toward some kind of transcendent climax – maybe some gospel influence? Instead, The Time I Need seems to hesitate. If Jaehwan must go down this route, he needs to be backed by a much more dynamic arrangement.
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