David Choi is your perfect example of an internet star. His youtube videos have skyrocketed his fanbase and popularity in the last couple of years allowing him to experience a large amount of exposure. Till recently he was known for his deadpan expression, dry humor and tongue in cheek wit, and most of all song covers and talented musicianship. Back in October he released this full length album entitled “Only You” so here’s the review. Better late than never.
Always Hurt – This song starts the album decently with a melody/progression similar to the classic Lovin’ Spoonful song “Daydream”. However the tone of the melody doesn’t quite match the tone of the lyrics. Overall it’s a good song and is a promising start.
Love – This track is pretty, pleasant, but ultimately somewhat dull. Eventually it get’s more engrossing towards the end but takes too long to get there. I think just the verses are what brings the song down. The chorus is simple but effective and keeps the song from getting too plain.
Won’t Even Start – It kinda gives off a “Ken Oak Band” type of vibe. Just the mellow vibe and tempo plus the use of strings all seem familiar. But its the good kind of familiar. I also enjoyed the subtle use of harmonies. It’s a good track that I appreciated more with each listen.
Heart – This song has a real bluesy feel to it (kinda like some of John Mayer’s more recent material). It’s definitely a good sound for David. When he strips away all of the instrumentation and it’s just him and his guitar he is able to connect to the material better, or at the very least convey better that he’s connected. Overall it just sounds more focused and heart felt than some of his other tracks.
Something to Believe – This song has a sorta cheesy, happy go lucky type of feel to it. There are aspects of it that are catchy yet oddly its not really engaging. I can see some people enjoying this song but it’s not really for me. It’s kind of like the “anti-Heart”. Everything I praised about “Heart” was not present in this song.
Windmill – Surprisingly this has a slightly country sound to it. The chorus is a bit catchy but it all seems a bit unoriginal and uninspired. It’s one of those songs you felt like you’ve heard before. The instrumentation itself is great but it just doesn’t come together very freshly.
Let Go – I’m going to be very frank and say I liked this track the least from the album. It’s just a compilation of a lot of small things that annoy me such as the occasional corny spoken adlibs and the overall mixdown (vocals seems a bit too loud to me). I don’t really like the chorus which is strange because his choruses are usually the stronger part of his songs. Lastly the overall vibe just sounds like it belongs in some 90’s Freddie Prinze Jr chick-flick movie.
Our Song – The slight country slant makes a return. I really liked the sound of the keyboard on this one. It really freshened the instrumental. David sings much of the song with his lower register and when he does he sounds disinterested. There was a nice harmonica solo in the latter half but unfortunately the track is forgettable overall.
Only You – Being the title track I was expecting a lot from this one. Its a tad dull in the beginning but it picks up and the tail end is a bit more involving. David goes into his falsetto a couple times and it sounds great. There are a lot of subtle elements to like such as the good use of the organ sounds. If you give the song a chance it’ll eventually draw you in as David exhibits a little more emotion towards the end.
Don’t Fade Away – Starts off with an interesting whistle intro. At this point I don’t really know. The song may be ok as a single listen but in the larger scope it blends in way too much with the rest of the album. Nothing really all that memorable about this one. Kind of ironic considering the title.
I Can Get Used to This – The keys on this one are really pretty and add a great touch to the instrumentation. David seems to have used a filter that thins his voice a bit but it works in conjunction with the music. This is the only song where I thought some of the phrasing felt a tad awkward, typically he’s on point with that. Once the song picks up after the 2 minute mark it all sounds much fuller. With exception to some of the phrasing I liked the writing on this one.
Thief in the Night – This is one of those songs where the melody seems vaguely familiar. It has a slight melancholy christmas feel to it. This is the only track on the album not to make use of a guitar and is instead driven by the piano. The lyrics felt like a collection of cliche’s and feels a bit dated and unoriginal. Not one of the better songs.
Hold On – Although the writing felt a bit formulaic it all works pretty well. David pushes his voice more in this one. I can almost imagine someone like David Cook singing this. I really liked the good use of strings. The entire instrumentation is reminiscent of something Ryan Tedder (of One Republic) would do. I think the song could have benefited from some back up singers but I’m not sure if that is a resource available to David.
Enjoy the View – I think this one only reinforces my “stripped down music” theory. The simple instrumentation allows the subtleties of David’s vocals to shine. He once again made great use of harmonies. Everything about this song is as chill and relaxing as it’s title implies.
Nothing is wrong with this album except to say… there’s not a whole lot right about it either. Almost everything that seemed to be embraced by the fans of David Choi is unfortunately absent from this release. His videos always displayed a humorous wit and charm that did not make the transition to this album. Instead we are left with a collection of pleasant, harmless, but ultimately somewhat dull forgettable music. There are a few gems in here but I’d say over half of the songs fail to really make any impression at all, and that’s dangerous place to be for any musician. Perhaps if these songs were released on a single by single basis they would stand stronger but as a collection they all tend to blend in making it difficult to distinguish one from the other. Instrumentation wise, this album shows David’s great talent for putting music together as almost every track was arranged and crafted well. However, the writing of the lyrics and melodies themselves were not quite as sharp as they often seemed derivative and formulaic. Bottom line is it’s a pretty album worth a listen if you’re a fan but I don’t think this album itself is going to win over many new ones. You won’t really feel the need to skip any of the tracks but you prob won’t find yourself pressing repeat on many either. If David can figure out how to bring his personality from youtube to album then he’d be a sure winner but till then we will have to wait.
Must Listen: Heart, Hold On, Enjoy the View
aTunes score: 6.5/10