'Purpose': Taeyeon sparkles on career-defining 2nd solo album


Taeyeon. Photo: SM Entertainment

Taeyeon

Purpose


SM Entertainment


EVERY now and then, there comes a record that is bigger than its recording artiste. The sophomore full-length from South Korean female soloist Taeyeon is one such album.

On Purpose, the Girls' Generation alumni delivers a larger-than-life performance on a deliciously darker and much more musically complex record. If she found her voice two years ago on her full-length debut, the 30-year-old has found artistic clarity on this latest studio effort.

The bubblegum pop shackles of her girl group past is completely obliterated as she dives head in to more adult contemporary and anthemic stuff on this 10-track collection (discounting the digital hit single Four Seasons and its B-side Blue on the Korean verison of the album).


The stirring ballad Here I Am sets that complicated tone with its lone piano and ballerina-jewelry-box melodies. The trouble with this slow-burning number is that it also confirms Taeyeon's penchant for slower tempo tracks.


While Taeyeon is lauded for her emotionally-charged vocals (especially on K-drama soundtracks), some of her songs sometimes veer too close to snooze-fest territory.


But that glacial front is immediately followed by the energetic lead single Spark. For the most part, things are kept relatively upbeat. And there's also more focus on instrumentation this time around. The Adele-esque Find Me, with its heavy drums, and the aggressive rock-infused chorus of Love You Like Crazy are made for arenas.

Those bold aspirations culminate to the brilliant LOL. On this genius alternative R&B number, Taeyeon's vocals soars over unexpected bursts of synthesizers and powerful bass.

That momentum is unfortunately tempered by weaker tracks like the jazzy Do You Love Me? and neo-soul City Love. While both buoyant numbers lend more musical diversity to the record, it's a jarring shift from the rest of the collection.

All is forgiven on the emotionally intense closer Gravity. With its aching lyrics and lingering melodies, the songstress might have just delivered her most career-defining performance yet.

Taeyeon has set a lofty benchmark for South Korean female soloists here. The artistic confidence on Purpose feels intensely liberating, and it is one heck of a confident record – in soul, sentiment and sound.

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Summary:

Taeyeon delivers a career-defining performance on her second solo album.

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