Han Yo Han is a name I suspect many may not be too familiar with. I, myself, am only recently discovering his music, but we’ve all definitely heard his work before. He’s composed famous songs such as Block B‘s “Very Good” and Geeks‘ “Wash Away” featuring Ailee, as well as songs for Just Music Entertainment artists like Giriboy. Now he’s released his second EP, titled ‘911‘, where his talent as a composer, guitar player, and singer-songwriter are on full display.
The title track for this EP, “Fire“, is not my favorite track on the album, but it’s certainly the right choice for a lead single and a great introduction to Han’s knack for mixing hip-hop, R&B, pop, and rock all into one song seamlessly. It really is a standout among others within this genre. The slinky dream-like sounds in the instrumental couple with a nicely paced beat during the verses, only to explode during the choruses with the addition of Han’s electric guitar as the lyric “fire” is echoed throughout in epic feeling harmonies that are emphasized and modulated on the second round.
There’s a wonderful sultriness to this, no doubt a huge part of that due to the choice of the velvet-toned featuring vocalist, Isle. Microdot is another pleasant addition as he effortlessly plays over the beat with a song-like flow and lyrics that move in and out of Korean and English.
There are three other tracks on this album, and while all of the songs I find enjoyable, the standout for me is very clear. “Can’t Get Close” featuring Stella Jang could easily be overlooked, but I find it brilliant in a quiet and understated way.
The opening pulsating beat pulls you into hushed vocals that are mesmerizing and give the entire effort a very poignant feel. The song is complimented by a beautifully clear electric guitar that varies from long drawn-out notes to detailed plucked moments that really compliment and emphasize the staccato vocalization within the chorus. The chiming piano and heartbeat-like rhythm during the final chorus drive us to the climax of the song where Stella’s vocals also become a bit stronger. While short, this song is an instant favorite, and I would love to see Han do more work like this in the future.
It’s obvious from his work that Han already knows who to pick on his tracks to bring them to their fullest potential, but his weakness would be the songs he sings himself. He tends to opt for more simple arrangements and melodies that can come off as less exciting in comparison to the other songs he has featuring artists tackle. However, I think this EP showed a promising progression for him. The song “Lamborghini” reminds me a bit of a song perhaps Third Eye Blind would have sang back in the late 90s. The fact that he isn’t the best vocalist actually brings a certain charm to the song, and overall the arrangement has really fantastic moments between the organ in the back and the pick-up within the choruses.
The album closes out with “Long Time No See“, and this is probably my least favorite on the album even though I still do enjoy it. It’s certainly in line with the rest of the tracks, so it doesn’t feel out of place or awkward. However, my complaint is that considering the chorus repeats “I don’t give a fuck” pretty boldly, I wish there was something more hard hitting within the instrumental to match it rather than echoes, snaps, and soft piano/synth sounds.
Overall, this is an incredibly cohesive album from Han Yo Han with a lot of fantastic things happening in a genre that can sometimes be quite repetitive. It’s the type of album I can let play from opening to end without fear of getting bored, and I have kept playing it without getting tired of it yet. I really look forward to what he has to offer in the future for his own work, and I hope he releases a full album.