Welcome back to another special music edition of the K-SPOTLIGHT, this time with an article all about Im Hyeonjeong (임현정)! This folk artist’s music is something we listen to again and again, and so we put together an extensive review with track recommendations, links and videos in the hope that her music will reach an even wider audience. To have such wonderful music lying undiscovered is a crying shame, so we would like to put Hyeonjeong onto the centre stage, complete with beaming spotlights and support her as much as we can!
If you missed our Q&A earlier this week and would like to know more about Hyeonjeong in her own words, read our interview with her to get some more insight behind this wonderful artist!
Please support the artist by purchasing her music! A list of website links can be found at the end of this article. But in case you can’t wait until the end and to make it easy for you, here is a quick link to iTunes now!
We can’t wait to tell you all about this singer-songwriter, so let us get started!
An introduction to Im Hyeonjeong
Im Hyeonjeong is an acoustic singer-songwriter, who writes melodies which are both elegant and gentle. A somewhat accidental discovery for us, we quickly ended up falling for her folk style, loving her honesty and straightforwardness. You know…it takes something a little bit special to create a positive reaction to a song within a short time, but that is really what happened here. Armed with her dark mahogany acoustic guitar, she creates the beat by tapping the strings, and simultaneously plays the melody effortlessly. We could watch her play all day long. Hyeonjeong’s beautiful music calms and soothes the soul, and we just enjoy it very much. It isn’t possible to say it more clearly that that!
We quickly ended up falling for her folk style, loving her honesty and straightforwardness…it takes something a little bit special to create a positive reaction to a song within a short time, but that is really what happened here.
As is the case for many independent musicians, there was not a lot of information available about her, but Hyeonjeong’s online presence took shape about 3 years ago and she usually performs at smaller, more intimate gigs that allow her to shine. Her debut single was released this year, during January 2017, and she also performs together with a bassist who goes by the name of Fogg and a harmonica player who calls himself ‘Passing Josh’.
We do think that she is somewhat of an undiscovered gem in the Korean music scene, so we hope that many of you will take the time to appreciate her and lend your support!
Acoustic music delivered with the utmost gentleness, warmth and care
Im Hyeonjeong’s voice is always warm, always comforting. We would describe it being like a gentle and kind embrace. The songs that she sings are a perfect accompaniment to an evening watching the sun set over the horizon. We often find ourselves returning to her music at the end of the day; music has that strange ability to seem more powerful when it is understated at times. It is in those instances that it matters both what is said and how we say it. Hyeonjeong has that ability to connect the two together, and create a harmony of musical expression.
We sometimes feel an element of sadness or nostalgia behind her words too, but no sentiment is ever conveyed brashly or clumsily. Rather, there is a delicate placement of notes and lyrics and the impression that we get is that Hyeonjeong cares for the listener. You can easily lose yourself by closing your eyes while listening to one of her compositions; those notes are like a soft yet familiar breeze brushing past you on the street, welcoming you home.
Accompanied by the rhythmical strumming of her guitar, Hyeonjeong sings naturally and comfortably, with a mid-range vocal register. No matter the emotion or story which is being portrayed, her delivery is always very captivating and beautiful.
There is something about the way she waits that fraction of a breath before singing the next line of music. It gives her the time to gather her thoughts, her convictions, and in return, every word seems genuine and believable. When she gradually moves to her higher range, the melody swells and becomes fuller, enriching the overall sound.
We highly recommend listening to Hyeonjeong’s music; there may be many other people with songs in the folk genre, but it is only Hyeonjeong who especially touches us with her sincerity and grace.
There is something about the way she waits that fraction of a breath…it gives her the time to gather her thoughts, her convictions, and in return, every word seems genuine and believable.
Music review and track recommendations
Cover art for the debut single ‘소리 없이 지나가요’
소리 없이 지나가요
It seems right to begin with the most recent release from Hyeonjeong (her official debut single), though actually seems to have been written a while ago. It has its own music video in which she stars in. Before we watched the video, the image of the sun rising or setting seemed to enter our thoughts each time we listened to Hyeonjeong’s music. Therefore, we were pleasantly surprised to see that in the MV she indeed plays while the sun slowly rises in the early hours of the morning. Those first sunbeams hit the water, the streets, buildings and the side of her bodily frame as she sways a little in time with the music. Although the melody keeps to a fairly simple central line, this is a solid effort from her.
In this track, her guitar seems to sing as much as she does. The notes dance lightly and continuously, with only the occasional triple strumming pattern willing them to move on. The way the guitar sounds is one of our favourite aspects of this song.
This overall sound feels like one of longing and wanting for something better. Hyeonjeong’s vocals end with barely a whisper and finishes the capture of emotions in poignant fashion.
Video credit: Fantamoon Film. Hyeonjeong’s official YouTube channel.
This song is one of our favourite Hyeonjeong tracks so we were glad to find a high quality recording of one of her performances of this! We already loved this song in its original form, but adding the harmonica and bass guitar helps to elevate it to another level. Hyeonjeong has one of those voices that slightly echos in her lower range, but glistens with her higher notes so she shines brightly when performing ‘사막의 별’as its construction makes greater use of her top notes.
The initial slow pacing of ‘사막의 별’made us feel hints of regret and sadness. Hyeonjeong starts with a slow build in the verses, until she gets to a long note that she draws out for as long as she can, before finally succumbing and allowing its dissipation into the surrounding air. The chorus was something of a pleasant surprise when we heard it for the first time, as the song bursts into life in an instant.
This song is extremely beautiful and we loved it after the first listen. Stunning in its simplicity, there is no need for anything but Hyeonjeong and her fellow instrumentalists on stage. ‘사막의 별’has already become a long-lasting addition to our playlist. If you only listen to one song from Hyeonjeong, it should be this.
We listened to this song a lot during the final stages of this article. What is beautiful about ‘Green Green’ are the chord progressions. The opening bars allude to what is to come, but then the bright melody starts and you forget about those minor chords just for a moment. When they return, those chords act like an introspection, perhaps representing melancholy thoughts that appear in between the main melody. Much like nature, life is a cycle of light and darkness, beginnings and endings, and we just thought that this song represents that philosophy well. We like this one very much, so please give it a listen below.
Video credit: 카페언플러그드 YouTube channel.
This track is one of the faster tempo and upbeat offerings by Hyeonjeong. She starts off steadily, with a series of short phrases in the verses, the pre-chorus then expands the sound into a vibrant and bright chorus. Hyeonjeong sings about her favourite flowers in this one and you can feel the happiness behind the words. The sound of the song brought to mind memories of road trips in the countryside! We enjoyed ‘능소화’too! Highly recommended.
Video credit: 아트라운지멋진하늘 YouTube channel
빛이 모여드는 곳에
‘빛이 모여드는 곳에’ is quite different from her other songs particularly during the opening. To be honest, we were not sure how this was going to turn out from hearing the first bars and the recurring theme. More is made of instrumental breaks and harmonies and we think that the song finds it way at around a minute into the playing time. It would be a good metaphor for growing up. Hyeonjeong sings about light in the lyrics, and she seems to enjoy performing this track (she adds it to her setlist often).
Video credit: 아트라운지멋진하늘 YouTube channel
Now we move on to some older material and early work from Hyeonjeong!
This track ebbs and flows like running water in a stream. A very relaxing listen and an elegantly crafted song that ended up being our most played of Hyeonjeong’s discography. It might even just be our favourite because we associate it with the beautiful moments of sunrise and sunset of the day. This song is never overstated, the tone of it is warm and comforting, the build is gradual and the sound is wonderful. Hyeonjeong knows when to push the melody forward and also when to rein it back and recede. We are running out of superlatives now, but this one is amazing!
Video credit: MorinD Kim YouTube channel.
바람 나무 사랑
This is another one of Hyeonjeong’s songs that ranks very highly with us. Even though it was originally uploaded online 2 years ago, we feel that this song epitomises the heart of Hyeonjeong’s music and is a good representation of her as a musician and songwriter. You can truly feel the inherent warmth to each word; put simply, listening to this track makes us smile and we love it so much. The guitar is played with the utmost care and gentleness, and this music really does make you float away from your troubles. Highly recommended!
We wanted to finish with this short instrumental piece, called ‘December’ which is so pretty that we thought that it would make for the perfect ending to our review. During the 2 minutes of the song, we get to admire the beauty of her guitar playing, accompanied by the partnership of the piano and bass.
Thank you for reading and exploring Hyeonjeong’s music with us! We hope you enjoyed listening as much as we do!
Im Hyeonjeong is a kind soul, and this reflects and manifests itself in her music. She may think that her reach is small, but her music travelled all the way across the world out here to us! There is definitely a place for modest and humble expression in music in our opinion, and we do think that her compositions have been amazing pieces so far. Whatever praise you can give to a recorded song should be amplified at least 10 fold for an impressive acoustic set, and Hyeonjeong is very deserving of many laudits and compliments for her songwriting skills. In amongst all the electronic and production-heavy tracks, and as a welcome peacefulness against the loudness, noise and bustling of the city, we should remember that music in its pure form, like a loyal friend, is always waiting for us.
Im Hyeonjeong as a singer-songwriter does just that; remembers and celebrates music at its purest.
We admire Im Hyeonjeong and all that she has done so far; we wish her the best and encourage her in all of her future musical endeavours. Keep going Hyeonjeong! We look forward to seeing how your music develops next!
How to support Im Hyeonjeong
Support Im Hyeonjeong and buy her music! Her debut single, ‘소리 없이 지나가’loosely translated as ‘Pass by without sound’ can be purchased via iTunes (Note that her name appears written as ‘Lim Hyeon-Jeong’). Alternatively, you can use the Korean websites like Melon, Bugs, genie, and Naver to purchase/stream the single (all of these are linked, click each site name to be re-directed).
Some of her other works (unplugged versions and collaborations) that are featured on the ‘Friday Night Record – take 5 EP’ can be found there as well, in addition to iTunes.
Image source: ‘Friday Night Record – take 5 EP’. 06.08.2017.© iTunes.
You can also follow Hyeonjeong’s activities through her social media links.
Official Facebook page: www.facebook.com/imhjmusic
Official YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/user/sr8001
Featured image source © Im Hyeonjeong. 17.11.2015. Instagram.
In-article image source: ‘Friday Night Record – take 5 EP’ image from iTunes. 06.05.2017. iTunes.
Remainder of in-article images and debut single cover art © Im Hyeonjeong. 06.05.2017. Images were either provided directly from the artist or reproduced from official social media pages with permission.
© Im Hyeonjeong music review. Inspire Me Korea. 06.08.2017