[8 February 2009]
The debut album from this NYC by way of South Korea/Nigeria/Sweden singer is a little schizophrenic, but… But there’s something here. Jihae, who has the androgynous, arch ‘tude of Grace Jones, opens herself up more easily in the middle of her debut, but bookends the album with a pair of altogether more interesting material. “Elvis is Still Alive”, which opens the album, starts straightforward old-school groove and (a positive jam) and shuttles unexpectedly through a number of styles before settling into a relaxed 6/8 (which becomes the default timbre for the rest of the album). The guitar arpeggii/whispered vocal formula wears a little thin, but when she gets it right—as on the duet “Pink Sands”—her music has a stately elegance. Overall, Elvis is Still Alive plays slighter than it should—Jihae has a keen sense of melody and emotes well. But she should allow herself more room to experiment with distortion and song structure. If she can do this, Jihae might be a name to keep an eye on.