Former Girls’ Generation member Jessica Jung – known professionally by the mononym Jessica – certainly has the whole absence-makes-heart-grow-fonder thing going on for her.
Two years have passed since her involuntary departure from the mega girl group, and fans would have gotten used to the new eightsome K-pop girl group by now.
But with the release of this solo endeavour, the San Francisco-born is determined to make fans remember her. And the way she’s doing that is by highlighting that voice that once took lead on many of the verses on some of Girls’ Generation’s biggest hits.
Simplistic melodies with incredible sing-a-long worthiness is at the core of the six-track With Love, J (which has one fewer track on the English version). The anthemic Fly kicks off the mini album with an infectiously aspirational tone. Bright and effortlessly bubbly, the mid-tempo number also incorporates some global flavour with uplifting raps courtesy of Brooklyn-based rapper Fabolous.
If anything, the bulk of With Love, J runs on excessive positivism. While not necessarily cloying, they’re not exactly the most original messages around town.
The sickly saccharine Big Mini World for instance, with its underlying bulletin about a bright-eyed girl, does seem a little too juvenile for Jessica’s 27-year-old self.
With Love, J is at its best when the Pollyanna vibe is dialled back. The mellow piano of Golden Sky is tempered by solace-filled words, making for a much more gratifying listen.
And on the brilliantly pensive ballad Love Me The Same, Jessica muses about love by way of circumstances. She should know better, really. After all, here’s a survivor who’s weathered some tough ordeals indeed.
With Love, J