Eric Nam has always tread an interesting line, split between idol and indie. He’s a singer-songwriter who utilises that most classic of instruments: the acoustic guitar. Yet, he’s also built a sizable career as a TV personality, both on variety shows and as an interviewer. Honestly, there are times where it feels the latter occupation overshadows the former. As he’s preparing for his latest comeback, we at Seoulbeats are taking this opportunity to highlight some overlooked B-sides in Eric Nam’s career.
From his first EP, Cloud 9, “Mirage” allows Eric Nam to experiment. While his talent for heart-wrenching ballads is undeniable, the fact is they can run together. “Mirage” pulls some 80s synths in for a counterpoint to Eric Nam’s tender vocals. The interplay works well, with Nam’s sweetness allowing the instrumentation to come off as dramatic rather than cheesy, and the more artificial production bringing the genuine loss in the vocals to the forefront.
“Stop the Rain”, from Nam’s second EP, Interview, is a prime example of his immense talent for the stripped back. Featuring a quiet guitar piece with touches of piano and percussion, the real standout here in Nam’s performance. Pleading and desperate in the face of a crumbling relationship, Nam argues that their love can do anything, even stop the rain. The soft-spoken but steeley delivery showcases a fervently unbreakable faith in their love that cannot help but win hearts effortlessly.
While most often working with acoustic guitars, Eric Nam is perfectly capable of going electric, as proven on “4AM”. Spinning a tale of post-breakup depression, Nam captures the loneliness and isolation that happens in the space between last night and this morning, when you’re out of distractions and the regret’s hit full-force. The poignant, faintly bluesy riffs give “4AM” a classic feel. It’s a track that will always have a place, because it’s always relevant to someone.
His most recent EP, Honestly, saw Eric Nam get crazy. Well, not crazy, but “Potion” featuring Woodie GoChild, is definitely a jam. It’s a loose and relaxed track that ride the house party vibe. It balances the carefree edge of just being with friends with the self-destructive need to drown your problems in the nearest bottle. Nam shines here, his vocals nailing the attitude of realizing booze and partying probably won’t help, but screw it. It’s a new sound, and one that Eric delivers with aplomb.
Speaking of new sounds, did you know Eric Nam can do bitchy? Because he can. Closing Honestly, “Don’t Call Me” is a brutally straightforward track. After a relationship ends, the worst thing is when your ex just won’t let it go–how can you move on when they’re always there? The guitar is still there, but it’s set against a deceptively bouncy EDM beat, giving a sweet layer to Nam’s anguished pleas. All he wants is for his ex to leave alone, and he is done being nice about it.
Those are my favorites from Eric Nam’s wider discography, but they’re far from his only good B-sides. Are there any that you really love? Leave them in the comments!