Lee Hi’s HOLO is her first work as part of the AOMG label, a signing that was officially announced this week. This is great news for fans. Unlike YG Entertainment and its subsidiaries, AOMG is known for… you know… actually releasing music. We may no longer have to wait years in between new Lee Hi material. But even as part of this big transition, HOLO finds Lee Hi in her soulful, throwback comfort zone.
HOLO is a classic r&b soul ballad, with elements of blues and even some gospel flavor. It’s melodically rich, even if its melodic themes are nothing new within these genres. Still, it’s important to match artist and song well, and HOLO’s emotive, slow-burn structure allows the nuances in Hi’s voice to shine. I can’t think of another mainstream Korean artist better suited to HOLO’s nostalgic style.
Opening with piano and voice, the track quickly blossoms into a grander affair. Percussion gradually builds throughout the second half of the first verse, setting the stage for a much more robust chorus. Here, HOLO delivers additional piano, hearty background vocals and even a bit of organ to deliver a stately, church-like sound. This maintains through the rest of the track, making for a compelling second verse and a cathartic climb toward HOLO’s climax. The arrangement never strays from the song’s genre expectations, but at just under three minutes, HOLO packs a wallop within its tight frame. It’s a satisfying “welcome back” for one of K-pop’s most beguiling vocalists.
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