Ballad singer Zia is back with new mini-album a little over a year from her last album release. Her comeback brings a feature with Block B‘s Park Kyung which was pre-released a little less than a month before the album dropped, along with her popular duet with Huh Gak, which was released earlier this year in August. The mini-album is titled Anemone, with title track “One Year,” which garnered attention perhaps initially for its use of idols–B1A4‘s Baro, B.A.P‘s Bang Yong-guk, and ZE:A‘s Siwan–but eventually for its intriguing plot as well. For reference, anemone is Greek for “daughter of the wind” and is also the genus name for a multitude of flowering plants. The flowers also take on the name “windflower.”
The first track on the album is “Alone in My Room.” Starting off slowly, Zia’s voice leads the instrumental, which is light and airy. The song gently swells during the chorus to a harmonious high point, only to return down for the next verse. The instrumental makes use of a variety of instruments from different sections; in different parts, you can hear bits of woodwind, strings, and brass that help lend a theatrical air to the piece. The song seems to last for a long time, but not in a way that drags.
Second is the title track, “One Year.”
In contrast to the first song, this one begins with a distinctly sorrowful tone. A heavier beat enters for the second verse, along with strings and electric guitar, building on the moodiness of the song. The climax of the song starts with a long note and continues in a dramatic way before quickly dying down. It’s a track made for a music video with a continuous buildup that just opens up wonderfully near the end. The lyrics follow a woman a year after she broke up with her boyfriend. Despite the break-up, she’s still holding on to the possibility that they might get back together. The high point near the end coincides with her desire to have some type of closure that can cut off the feelings she still retains a year after the relationship.
Third brings us one of the earlier released tracks, and my favorite from the mini: “Tears Falling Down” featuring Park Kyung of Block B. Park Kyung wrote his own feature for the song, as expected. The prominence of the acoustic guitar and the whistling give the song a lonely mood. It’s fitting for the two sides of a relationship, both of which have been putting up a front that has hurt the other. Kyung’s thinner tone and pitch very much suits the song as it’s not too hard-hitting to overwhelm the music. It’s also a good contrast to Zia’s fuller tone, which is especially notable in Kyung’s later interjections.
Next is “Even If You Forget Me.” And we’re back to a melancholy tone fit for a story. Simple touches like single notes outlined from the melody help keep the track interesting. Although both Zia’s voice and the music are beautiful here, the song lacks the development and interesting features that some of the other songs have. One of the long notes near the end seemed a tad out of place or too short for the section chosen. And the ending was more abrupt than expected. The song is by no means poor, but it’s not as good as some of the others on this mini-album.
Last is one of the year’s better known songs: “I Need You,” a duet with Huh Gak. In contrast to the other songs of the mini-album, Zia starts off strong from the start. This is the sweetest song on the album. We have two sides once again, but this time they’re both taking the steps towards confessing to one another, more lighthearted topic. In a similar way to earlier with Park Kyung, Huh Gak’s thinner voice–relative to Zia–has qualities that work well with Zia’s, ensuring that both are heard and are enjoyable together. The synthesizer use here and there is a throwback to some older hip hop sounds that work well with the feel of the song.
Zia’s singing is fantastic throughout the mini-album. She has excellent range, and her tone tends to be rich and soothing. Her songs are far from monotone, utilizing her range to make unexpected dips here and there and excel with the higher and longer notes. Anemone as a whole provides a good array of ballads, mostly on the sadder side, but good to listen to nonetheless. As previously mentioned, “Even If You Forget Me” is the track that slips a bit beneath the other ones its development, but the others are more than pleasant listens. As such, I’d give the mini-album a 4.7/5.