What I Wan To Say To You (너에게 하고 싶은 얘기) and I Am Alway Alone (난 항상 혼자 있어요) are from the folk songstress Jang Pil Soon’s (장필순, 1963-) seventh album, Soony Seven, which was released in 2013. An old timer in the folk scene and active since the 1980s, Jang has been performing songs about love, friendship, and life ever since. Her excellent seventh album is of the soul searching kind, with deeper, more mature and relevant lyrics, a high point of her decades of musicianship.
너에게 하고 싶은 얘기
What I Want To Say To You
난 항상 혼자 있어요
I Am Always Alone
Jang started her music life in earnest forming a duo with her school mate in the 80s. After her partner quit to pursue her studies, she went solo in 1989 releasing her first album. She had a modest hit with Before I realized (어느새), and followed on with more albums, some of which are now ranked among the all time 100 best albums in some respected surveys. Jang’s music is poetic folk ballad, somewhat in line with Jo Dong Jin, with whom she had close association and even collaborations through the years. Her latest album appears to be yet another height of her career, filled with songs featuring deep reaching lyrics and solid music to go with them.
What I Want To Say To You, which is of her own writing, is words of love and moral support for a friend who has lost his or her way. Starting low key and with no flamboyant vocals or instrumental arrangements, it says its message through gently repeating rhythm and softly sung melody of steady assurance that leads to an exhilarated crescendos toward the end. The song as well as the whole album is the kind of music you would relax listening to at the end of a particularly tiring day.
I Am Always Alone is a sad, whispery ballad confessing to the loneliness and emptiness deep in the narrator’s heart. It sinks down to the remotest corners of a sad mind as it recites the broken dreams and the ensuing sadness, lost friends, solitude and worthlessness of life. You get the impression that the narrator is relating her feelings of the most private nature while she is looking back and taking stock of her life so far, telling you that she cannot seem to find even one thing that gives her a reason for joy. You are stunned and don’t know what to say, awed by the frank and cogent sorrowfulness of it. The song ends with This loneliness called life, it will all disappear, won’t it. And all this sadness will be forgotten. You rarely hear such an expression of abject despair in a song.
Like her quiet and unassuming songs, Jang Pil Soon is said to be leading a quiet life living on the Jeju island in the southern tip of Korea. She called it a slow life in a newspaper interview, befriending nature and animal friends. I hope there will be another Jang Pil Soon album as good or even better than Soony Seven.