A solo album from Jinyoung of Got7 is to say, “a long time coming.” As one of the foundational members of the group (together with Jay B), his solo works reflect his love and care for his members and fans. Even now, his thoughtful acting makes you focus on the character and his role in the story. It is just who he is—a pillar of support wherever he goes, and he does his best for others.
After a long wait, Jinyoung drops his first self-produced album, Chapter 0: WITH, which combines his experiences both as an idol and an actor. With ten years under his belt, Jinyoung showcases his maturity as an artist, baring his sentimentality in simple melodies and beautiful lyricism of love and parting.
Jinyoung always has a knack for melancholic melodies, which we have heard in JJ Project’s introspective Verse 2. With Got7, Jinyoung’s compositions always had the least fanfare and less-to-none gimmicks, focusing on the melody and the lyrics. He takes the same approach with Chapter 0: WITH, with the title track “Cotton Candy” as the only upbeat song in the entire album.
“Cotton Candy,” as Jinyoung shared on It’s Live, is the last song he wrote for the album as he thought of how the fans would want him to sing and dance to sweet pop music. As the song title suggests, “Cotton Candy” describes the saccharine feeling when falling in love.
Feel so high like the sky
It feels like I am flying in the sky, I can fly
Just me, oh, me like this
You let me exist as it is
Like cotton candy
Sweet cotton candy
Where have you been?
Now stay here with me, please, plеase
The song is a pleasant listen, combining a funky bassline and a jazzy piano, which fits Jinyoung’s soft voice to a tee. In addition, Jinyoung’s vocals here are wispy—almost airy—to make listeners feel like they are walking on a cloud.
Jinyoung switches gears in “Our Miracle,” which almost sounds like a callback to JJ Project’s Verse 2 album. The song is mainly driven by electric guitar riffs, synthesizer beats, and reverbs, which increase in complexity as the song progresses. It almost feels like you are swimming underwater, but this time, along the tides of fate. More so, “Our Miracle” displays Jinyoung’s broad range, from the use of his chest voice to his impressive falsetto.
You and me
Should we just call it us?
Let’s define love
A miracle comes one step closer, whisper to me
Tell me it was meant to happen anyway
The stars gathered together
The lights just between you and me
“Animal”, “Sleep Well”, and “Letter,” are bookend tracks that somehow reflect Jinyoung’s true feelings. All three songs evoke a certain melancholy, with “Letter” having the most minimalistic arrangement. “Animal” opens with a sad piano melody, an unlikely introduction to a much-awaited solo album. However, looking at the lyrics, Jinyoung reveals his loneliness and anxiety:
Sins grow and become thorns
No matter how much I hid it, I couldn’t hide it
I’m the one who didn’t let you near the sharpness
In the loneliness and desolation
Who am I to live?
Where am I going?
Whether the song reflects his thoughts of his debut as an idol ten years ago or his album production, his thoughts move outward in “Sleep Well” and “Letter”. The former is an atmospheric ballad with soft electric guitar strums and trap elements, making it a dreamy lullaby. The lyrics, more so, make this track more poignantly beautiful:
Good night, I hope you’ll only dream a dream as pretty as you, my love
Good night, you who dream everyday
I hope you won’t dream uneasily when you sleep, baby
You are my everything
You are my destiny
My eternal love
Close your eyes
“Letter” continues the melancholy “Sleep Well” left off, and Jinyoung did mention that he wrote the two songs while thinking of the fans. BH Entertainment confirmed his upcoming military enlistment, which means that it will take a while for fans to see him making music and acting. “Letter”, as Jinyoung described it in It’s Live, is an “8090 folk song”, which he always wanted to try. The song begins only with an acoustic guitar, then builds with the addition of a string orchestra. While Jinyoung sings of parting, he remains hopeful that he will meet his fans again with smiles on their faces.
Even after time passes, we
I hope we can always smile when we look at each other
Our undecided future
Is it my greed to wish that there is no dark night inside?
Overall, Chapter 0: WITH is a beautiful gift. The album evokes both comfort and sentimentality, which sets Jinyoung apart from his members’ solo works. His soft tone and sensitivity are his biggest strengths, and he showcases both for his solo mini-album. It might be a cold winter when he starts enlisting, but Chapter 0: WITH will keep us warm and assure us that everything will be alright.