Review Summary: A collection of beautiful piano ballads about intimate, ubiquitous emotions.
Unlike an album with lyrics, a simple, melody-driven piano album simply needs conviction in its tunes to elicit the emotions of the readers. Although the music invokes the same general emotions from the listener, the lack of words allows the listener to consider to the emotion itself, instead of the lyricist’s interpretation of it. This allows the musician the freedom to create music without having to worry about lyrics ruining the sincerity of the message. But good pianists transcend this. They manage instead to convey the emotion with the same precision as lyrics while still maintaining the personal intimacy for each individual listener. Yiruma is no different, and to the multitudes of his adoring fans, he is perhaps the most adept at utilizing this deceptively difficult skill. Yiruma’s second album First Love
is just as the title suggests: a collection of beautiful piano ballads about intimate, ubiquitous emotions.
’s biggest draw is demonstrated in its immensely popular songs, “A River Flows in You,” as well as an orchestral version of his later hit, “Kiss the Rain.” One listen immediately demonstrates the strength of Yiruma’s musicianship. Both songs are beautiful melodies likely to cause the listener to demand a repeat. However, though both songs share this and their minor tonality in common, the sentiment which they elicit are completely different. “A River Flows in You” is vastly more romantic and is tantamount to the album’s romantic ballad. The melody is absolutely stunning, and Yiruma’s embellishments in the second chorus seems perfectly placed, never forced. On the other hand, “Kiss the Rain” seems to illustrate a lonely, melancholy person walking home, perhaps after a crushing loss, romantic or not. The perfectly slow pace of the song only serves to heighten the forlorn mood created by the song. Both songs demonstrate Yiruma’s ability to capture a mood perfectly and create a composition that so precisely captures it. Ultimately, the word to describe both songs is beautiful. Nothing else can define the songs so accurately.
Fortunately, First Love
does not lack in its other pieces either. Are they quite as spectacular as the aforementioned two? Perhaps not, but they are certainly great in their own right, continuing to display everything Yiruma does correctly. Songs like “Left My Heart” and “Dream a Little Dream of Me” are not as emotionally drenched, but the lighthearted but meaningful songs allow as a break for the other material. Yes, their melodies are not as moving, but an album can only extract so much heartbreak and loneliness from one person. “On My Way” and “May Be” are both lighthearted and enjoyable, whose juxtaposition with the emotional tracks surrounding them creates a contrast that allows the songs to be even more convincing. Indeed, for those dealing with problems in their lives, these tracks seemingly speak to them, pick them up , and put them back on their feet. As easily as “A River Flows in You” and “Kiss the Rain” break your heart, “On My Way” and “May Be” put you back on the road to happiness. Meanwhile “Till I Find You” and “Farewell” find a middle ground that reconciles the melancholy and the uplifting moments into a feeling of guarded optimism, an excellent way to finish the album (the orchestral tracks unincluded).
Like all great artists, Yiruma manages to eliminate himself from his composition. Every song is tastefully created, with the perfect embellishments, dynamic changes, tempo changes, and key shifts. This creates an environment where the music takes a life of its own. The listener does not, and certainly should not, even consider the carefully crafted elements necessary to create the music. Admiring Yiruma’s craftsmanship would require several careful listens, but would that not be missing the point? The artist purposefully avoids any unnecessary frivolities that takes away attention from the music itself, so honor that wish and immerse yourself in this moods and landscapes of First Love