Critic’s Corner: Jennifer Chung – Common Simple Beautiful EP

Jennifer Chung is an artist whom the world has been able to witness grow from her humble just-another-cover-singer-on-youtube days. She’s grown a substantial fanbase, performed infront of hundreds of people, released an official music video, done photo shoots, become a youtube partner, and of course released her very first EP album. From her youtube videos we know there is no doubt that she has talent. And based on the view statistics and her word-of-mouth buzz, there is no doubt that she has charm. The question is, can she pull it all together and become a relevant artist with a respectable catalog of songs? This review may be a couple months late, but let’s jump into her EP ‘Common Simple Beautiful’ and find out after the break.

You Won – This starts of simply and beautifully, I promise you no pun intended. Her voice starts off the track tenderly and with an emotional clarity that is only enhanced by the great arrangement and instrumentation. The light strumming contrasting with the dark cello provide a great soundscape for Ms Chung to sing her heart out. Her voice really hits its stride towards the end when she pushes it and emotes very gracefully. My only complaint is the track ends somewhat suddenly.

Almost – The mixing on this track isn’t quite as clean. Jennifer’s voice is a little understated while the instrumental mix is a tad too loud. She sings much of the song with the softer part of her voice, which has a pretty texture but is definitely not refined enough to carry the song. Right before the 2 minute mark she briefly returns to the stronger voice but immediately resorts back to the soft head voice. I understand the stylistic reasoning behind this approach, especially in matching the tone of the lyrics but it just wasn’t executed quite as nicely as it could have been. Almost, but not quite. Pun intended this time mutha suckas.

Come My Way – The guitar sounds great in this song. Her session musicians do a pretty decent job with her instrumentals. I really like this track. It shows all the different textures of her voice and most importantly showcases the strong point of her vocals. I enjoyed the arrangement of this track much more than ‘Almost’. There just seems to be something small missing, but I can’t put my finger on it. Nevertheless, a strong track.

Common Simple Beautiful – This song has so much charm and perfectly sums up who I think Jennifer Chung is as an artist. A simple, honest, straight forward girl with a beautiful gift that is starting to figure out who she is as a musician. The writing and phrasing on this one has some awkward moments and can seem a bit amateur at times, but those are the things that she will likely improve upon over time. What’s more important about this track is the emotion she puts forward in it and how it overshadows any of the minor imperfections. It manages to be pretty, catchy, light hearted, yet deceptively deep all at the same time. What I enjoyed most is how honest it felt. A great title song.

Home – This track is one of two covers on the album. I hate to sound like Simon Cowell judging an American Idol contestant, but it’s just a pretty good cover that can’t quite compare to the original. Don’t get me wrong. She sings the song beautifully but fails to bring the same emotional connection as she did in some of her other songs. Plus she doesn’t convey the same longing heartfelt loneliness Michael Bublé exhibited in the original. She shows glimpses of it towards the end but unfortunately I can’t help but compare to Bublé’s version and thus it falls short.

Be Be Your Love – As the second cover on the album, this one suffers the same short comings as ‘Home’ but to a lesser effect. It’s too similar to the original and doesn’t surpass it. It does come close to at least matching it though. The only problem is Jennifer can’t quite match Rachael Yamagata’s seasoned vocal delivery stylings. I suspect that with a little time she will get there though. In summary, pretty good but not her best.

First things first, I know it’s an EP, but it’s still way too short. It makes it tough to judge the depth of Jennifer Chung as an artist, and ‘Common Simple Beautiful’ as a body of work. But I’ll still do my best. Basically, I enjoyed it. I think it shows very promising signs of what’s to come from a very talented artist in the making. I was a bit puzzled as to why ‘I Dont Know Lets Sing’ wasn’t included seeing as how there was a music video shot for it but I guess it doesnt really matter in the end because it wouldn’t have been one of my favorites anyways. Of the 6 tracks presented here they are very good, not bad, very good, fantastic, good, pretty good… in that order. In other words, it’s a mixed bag of good. Worth the 5 buck download? Definitely yes if you are even the slightest bit of a fan. Not a fan at all? Then only maybe. This EP shows that Jennifer does have some growth areas, mainly with the fine tuning of her writing and conveying the textures of darker emotions in her voice but all in all its still a beautiful, well orchestrated collection of songs. I commend JC as she was able to bring out a bit of the charm found her videos into her music. Something David Choi wasn’t quite able to do with his album. Since I couldn’t quite evaluate this as a complete body of work I’m giving Jennifer a slight benefit of the doubt with this one, but overall a job well done.

Must Listen: You Won, Come My Way, Common Simple Beautiful

a-Tunes Score: 8/10

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