There are words that can capture V's distinct style - soft is one. Mellow is another. Nostalgic works, too. There's a sense of calming slowness that emanates from V, an energy that seems to remind anyone he meets to stop rushing and find joy in little pauses and brief detours in life.This calm and mellow energy is reflected in V’s previous solo releases, such as Scenery and Winter Bear. V himself admits when he appeared as a guest on the South Korean variety show “Running Man” that even his manner of speaking can be slow.
It should not be surprising, then, that his first solo album, LayoVer, captures that innate sense of calm and gentleness. According to V, this album began with ideas of him truly expressing himself, and that it reflects his relaxed and easygoing approach in life.
As a whole, LayoVer is not very conceptual. V himself admits this when he appeared as a guest in K-Pop On! Spotify. All of the songs in the album are ballads about a former lover, and V is not credited as a writer in any of the tracks.
However, the fact that the album is not conceptual does not diminish its appeal. In fact, ballads about love and nostalgia are certainly in line with V’s personality. In an interview with Rolling Stone, V states that he lives with the word “romance” in his mouth. He likes to bask in the vibe of everyday scenes and he also tends to find meaning in everything. As such, post-breakup ballads like the ones on LayoVer are still on brand for V.
Sonically, though, V’s personal taste and style really do shine with LayoVer. His trademark baritone finds a home in the lofi track Rainy Days. In the jazzy track Blue, V uses a breathy style of singing, which sounds perfect when paired with minimal instrumentation – just a few looping notes from drums and electric guitar.
He cruises by effortlessly even in the more pop-leaning songs Love Me Again, Slow Dancing, and For Us. In these songs, V alternates between a light baritone to a soft falsetto, showcasing the effortless control he has over his vocals.
This ownership V shows in his album extends beyond his singing. As mentioned earlier, all the tracks of the album are post-breakup ballads. Regardless of how heart wrenching the lyrics of the songs are, however, the same cannot be said for the overarching genre in the album.
Each song has elements of jazz and classical music, genres which V is known to love. Jazz, in particular, is almost like an extension of V’s easy going personality. He said in an interview that jazz is “very free-form. Nothing’s planned out.” This is also in line with the central idea of LayoVer, that is, to take breaks and detours during a journey, instead of hyperfixating on and rushing towards the destination.
In the previously mentioned Rolling Stone interview, V also stated that jazz and classical music give him a sense of comfort, and that he tends to go back to these styles if he needs a break from work or if he has some free time. In a way, his decision to use jazz and classical music as the primary genres of LayoVer is a manifestation of his love for ARMY. He shares in the same interview, “Since this is the music that was always my source of comfort, why don’t I try to return the feeling for ARMY?”
ARMY, of course, is eager to return the love, too. The album itself was released last September 8, 2023, though a couple of tracks, Love Me Again and Rainy Days, were released on August 10 and 11, respectively. Since then, LayoVer has gone on to break various records. It ended its first day on Hanteo Album Chart with 1.6 million sales, the biggest first day sales ever for a soloist. It also ended its first week on the Hanteo Album Chart with over 2 million sales, breaking the record for the highest first week album sales by a soloist in the chart’s history.
Suffice it to say, this album had been long anticipated, especially given V’s history of teasing ARMY with his solo works and then never releasing those songs. This time, finally, V has come to a point where he is satisfied enough to release his work, and it clearly shows. It is this genuine self-expression of V that ARMY embraces, with hopes that he never stops being true to his own style, even in his future works.
Written by: Whoopi
Edited by: Marcie
Designed by: Achan
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