Mia Kim is an alt pop-rock singer/songwriter with whom I was completely unfamiliar with until her management reached out to me in regards to her sophomore album release ‘Who Is Sukey Rose?’. I wasn’t quite sure what to expect especially since you don’t see the words asian, female, and rock all in the same description too often. Produced by Jason Martin (of Starflyer 59), it was clear Mia had some decent backing with this project. What’s most interesting is that the album was fan funded as she was able to raise $8K to put this album together. So the question remains, is Sukey Rose worth it?
Find out after the jump!
The Grand Exit – I really enjoyed the piano intro on this song. It had a very warm, edgy sound to it and I wasn’t quite sure where the song was going to from there. Throw in some percussion and a catchy synth line and you end up with a fun pop-rock number. There’s an almost bluesy quality to the synth & bass line that gives the song a neat twist. No big complaints from me.
Oh, Sukey Rose – From the opening note you can tell this cut is going to have a much darker sound. The arrangement is pretty interesting and pretty well done if not a tad overproduced at times. The synth that kicks in on the chorus adds a touch of 80’s to the song. If you like your rock with a touch of vintage I imagine you’ll enjoy this one. I have to admit though, even after this song I still have no clue who Sukey Rose is.
Safe – Something about this song feels familiar. The tempo switches up between verses & choruses and it adds a fun dynamic. Overall though, this track doesn’t feel exceptionally fresh though I admit it’s well done. Something about the guitar riff & bass line reminds me of other songs that I can’t pinpoint. The song is pretty good but definitely not great.
Marionette – I can imagine this song on some kind of rom-com soundtrack during one of the more dramatic acts of the film. It’s got a decidedly sad tone to it, backed by an almost 90’s rock-ish ballad type of sound. Mia’s voice stands out here, she exhibits a tender quality that fits the sound well and it comes across with great clarity. I thought the ending was kind of dragged out and excessive but it wasn’t a deal breaker.
Fool Moon – This track is similar to some of the ballads on David Choi’s “Only You” album. However I should point out that Mia’s voice suits this type of track much better than David’s as she’s really able to soften up her tone. The song is very light in instrumentation, keeping it clean and simple and making for a nice change of pace. The song lyrics don’t really do anything for me but I can’t say it’s poorly written either. Some may find this song boring but I liked it. The ending felt entirely too abrupt though.
Enough – Mia brings back the darker tone. I really like it when she layers her voice, she really knows how to mix her different textures to make a great resulting sound. As for the song itself, I actually found it to be a bit dull. There’s a brooding quality that simmers just below the surface but it’s never really explored or fleshed out. If she had let that dark energy boil up a little more I think it would have added a great dynamic to the track.
War – I like this track. It’s really catchy, probably the catchiest on the album. Though every time I hear it I think of a shampoo commercial. I dunno why, but the sound reminds me of music used in Garnier ads or something. I know… a very random observation but I digress. Anyways the track is fun and upbeat with great energy in both the vocal and instrumentation. The song fits the definition of pop rock perfectly.
Evangeline – The best way to describe this song is eerily haunting. From the gentle vocals to the excessive reverb to the slow paced, stripped instrumental, everything about this song exudes sadness. These type of songs really showcase Mia’s knack for great instrumentation choices and ability to craft great sweeping melodies. I really liked the way this song closed too, which is more than I can say for some of the other cuts on the album.
Don’t Know Why – MK continues to keep things slow and minimalist. I really like the chorus here, I thought it was executed very well. Mia does the majority of the song in a lighter vocal tone and it sounds great. The entire track has an almost dream like quality to it. The almost ethereal type of beauty in the sound makes this one my favorite on the album.
Miss Regret – The tempo & energy picks up again with this song. She brings the edgy 80’s synth back, and it works pretty well. The sound is similar to her other song ‘War’ though not quite as busy and full. Unfortunately the poorly placed ending makes a return as well. I thought this one was fairly catchy and would ultimately say it’s a pretty good song but not exceptional.
Confession – Driven only by an acoustic guitar, Mia turns in an intriguing performance here. Her voice really fits this style and I thought it was a great way to close out the album. The absences of percussion allows her voice to fill out more space, and that’s definitely a good thing. But like so many other songs on the album… the ending felt a bit sudden. That being said, I still really enjoyed the song.
Conclusion: If you were to mix Neah Lee & Fiona Apple together, and throw in some synths and filter it all through some pop sensibilities, you’d get “Who Is Sukey Rose?”. That’s not a bad thing mind you. Given this was a fan-funded project, I was quite surprised by the production quality on this release. Though there are moments where things definitely felt a tad over produced, overall I came away quite impressed with the arrangements and sound of the album. The song writing is fairly conservative. I wouldn’t call it exceptionally witty, edgy, or poetic… rather it was more practical. Unflashy perhaps, but it served it’s purpose albeit in a middle-of-the-road type of fashion. My only real complaint is the fact that a lot of the songs felt like they weren’t as fleshed out as they could have been. Many tracks had endings that came up somewhat suddenly and didn’t bring proper closer to the song, leaving me as the listener a bit distracted going into the next cut. The greatest moments on the album tended to happen when the instrumentation was stripped back, allowing Mia’s voice to command the track rather than the other way around. She’s definitely a gifted vocalist that knows how to user the various textures of her voice well, and it’s on the more minimalist songs that you are truly able to appreciate that.
Must Listen: The Grand Exit, Evangeline, Don’t Know Why, Confession
a-Tunes Score: 8/10
2 thoughts on “Critic’s Corner: Mia Kim – Who Is Sukey Rose?”
I saw her play a few years back. Some people I met at Holliston UMC in SoCal knew her and I got her first CD. I thought she was pretty good though not my type of music.