I remember being pleasantly surprised when Kim Jaehwan made his solo debut – not because of the by-the-numbers ballad he promoted but because of the breadth of styles he attempted on the b-sides. Since then, I’ve found him to be a compelling voice performing material that feels too middle-of-the-road and safe.

That trend continues with new single Spring Breeze (봄바람), which isn’t a straight-up ballad but doesn’t venture far enough into new territory either. The instrumental injects some bounce, even if the percussion is quite reserved. A voice like Jaehwan’s would absolutely kill over a thumping club track, though I know he’ll never go in that direction. Spring Breeze hinges on a whistling hook reminiscent of vintage western movies. Close your eyes and it’s easy to picture a showdown at high noon in front of a dusty old saloon. I’m not sure if that’s what the producers were aiming for, but this musical motif is etched into my brain.

Jaehwan elevates the song with his performance. His vocal feels very effortless, and that’s a comforting place to be as a listener. You know he’s got this. There are some nice melodic turns throughout – especially during the extended pre-chorus. But me being me, I crave more bite and bombast. I wish Spring Breeze went full bore for its chorus instead of pulling back. Despite Jaewhan’s attempts, too much of the song fades into the background. It’s certainly a worthy piece of music, but I doubt it’ll stick in my memory for long.

Hooks 8
Production 7
Longevity 8
Bias 7

Grade: C


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Publisher: Nick