Jihae, pronounced “jee-heh,” has truly experienced the world, born in South Korea while growing up in Nigeria and Sweden and spending time in the UK before finally calling New York City home.
A true student and practitioner of the arts, Jihae expresses herself through other mediums than just music, having acting, composing, and songwriting credits to her name.
She released her debut album My Heart Is An Elephant in 2007 to much applause and acclaim. She revisits that LP with the Jeanluc Sinclair-produced EP Afterthought that includes four remixed tracks from the earlier LP and one new song “Simple Man” (download mp3 here).
“Simple Man” is ironic. One, it’s confusing to listen to since the singer is a woman, even though Jihae has a deep untraditional female voice. Two, put extra emphasis on the first point, which is compounded by her equally hard-to-understand lyrics (“Don’t think that I’m not fake / It’s just been way too long”). But despite those obstacles, she still makes the song listenable with her troubled yet sympathetic harmonies.
The rest of the EP follows that lead, showcasing Jihae’s lush and passionate self with laid-back electronic background beats behind it. Having not listened to the original tracks I can only assume the tracks still feature Jihae’s more vulnerable self, but are given more party-esque polishes and shines.
It can be a good thing. The electronic beats prevent “Faint (Remix)” from being too depressing, yet moody enough to maintain a distressed aura. While Nina Simone was no stranger to moodiness, Jihae perfectly sustains the hope and truth of the famous “black classical” musician’s passion in the remixed quasi-blues cover of “Do I Move You.”
But after listening to “Simple Man,” before the glossy remixes of the sensual “Black Pearl” and the Jem-like “Lazy Girls,” it’s apparent that Jihae’s alluring, yet mellow sensibilities are better enjoyed in less glamorous settings. She plays better around a raw, more intimate sound that compliments her raw and intimate sound that Trace Magazine calls a “brutally honest edge.”