In June of 2022, global Korean superstars BTS announced that they were taking a group hiatus until 2025. The band explained that during this time they would take time to discover themselves as individual artists, as well fulfill their mandatory military service. Since this announcement, all members have released solo music projects, each strikingly different from the other. The most recent release from member Kim Taehyung, artistically known as V, has struck me as possibly the most interesting project from the group’s solo era thus far.
Released Sept. 8, V’s mini album “Layover” uses a fusion of R&B, jazz, soul and pop to tell the story of someone going through the trials and tribulations of romantic loss. The singer has been public on his love for the jazz genre, often regarding it as the reason he fell in love with music, and this album is a testament to his words. From start to finish the project is filled with sultry bass lines, lively pianos and fluttering flutes. Listeners can’t help but to feel warm throughout their bodies when they listen. V’s unique baritone vocals, which can be compared to the likes of singers like Chet Baker and Frank Sinatra, float over the instrumentals like an instrument of their own. The track “Blue” in particular is a vocal standout. Although lyrically repetitive, V’s almost croon-like vocals can simultaneously portray the emotions of loneliness and eventual hope.
In the past decades, jazz has become a genre that is gatekept from mainstream music. Those who are involved in the jazz sphere seem to harshly dictate what is and isn’t considered “true jazz.” Despite these efforts, releases such as “Layover” and even the recent album “Bewitched” from singer Laufey, who has spoken about the elitism in jazz, are being dawned as a renaissance for the genre. The public’s reaction to V’s solo endeavor has been overwhelmingly positive, and it will be no surprise to me if other musicians also take inspiration and dabble in the sound.