In Review

John OFA Rhee’s 'bleeding in sunset blvd.' Is a Musical Masterpiece [Album Review]

Ian Tsang

After a long three-year hiatus, Korea-native turned LA transplant, John OFA Rhee, has returned. The bilingual artist combines his two preexisting EPs, bleeding in and sunset blvd., for his magnum opus: bleeding in sunset blvd. – which features four new songs to accompany his previous eight. This record is a musical masterpiece through-and-through – seeing the artist’s vulnerability, raw talent, and musical literacy come to fruition. John’s debut studio album shows him exhibiting prowess surpassing the average up-and-coming star. Even yet, “bisb” cements his legacy as a generational talent – an artist whose discography remains timeless and worthy of eternal acclaim.

Throughout bleeding in sunset blvd., John toys around the fine-lines of genre: incorporating influences from R&B, soul, funk, and sax-based ballads. As far as comparisons go, John’s refined skill on the guitar is reminiscent of fellow musician, John Mayer – whose likeness can be heard on tracks such as “DAYDREAM,” “STAY,” “SHOULD I,” and “BLAME.” Interestingly enough, both Johns attended the Berklee College of Music, albeit, Mayer left after two semesters. “BLAME” may be Rhee’s most hypnotic track off the record: exhibiting masterful songwriting and avant-garde filmography for a song/video pairing perfect to its core.

“If the world it keeps on changing,

And the winds blow at their pace,

If the skies have different seasons,

How come mine remain the same?”

No-matter which track off the album, Rhee’s artistry remains true; every song is different, every song is pure, and every song shows a new blending of beloved-genres. For instance, the opening track “FRIDAY NIGHTS (with bottle gods)” sees Rhee experimenting with upbeat synth influences and layered vocals. But while all is pleasant in the beginning, the middle-ground is a rollercoaster-ride of serenades and ballads with him questioning his own emotional sanity. By the end, Rhee concludes his masterpiece with “SLUMBER” – a somber, existential, and introspective track stripped to its roots. Allowing the saxophone to take the lead, Rhee shows how music is capable of invoking one’s innermost feelings: how a simple “trading off” between the sax and himself is music’s purest form.

“I’ve waited far too much,

Been in and out of luck,

For me to follow you into slumber.

Hoping soon we could be,

Two lovers in a perfect dream.”

bleeding in sunset blvd. is truly Rhee’s masterpiece – serving as a break-out for the underground artist. But while his solo career is on the verge of stardom, success is nothing new. Previously, the singer performed on the prestigious Korean musical talent show, Superstar K – where he placed in the top 8 of the show’s seventh season. Furthering his career, Rhee collaborated with famed artists Stella Jang, PRIMARY, Sam Ock, and Melomance’s Kim Min-seok. John OFA Rhee has certainly been on a long road for his musical journey. But after a long hiatus, Rhee’s musicality has culminated in the flawless “bleeding in sunset blvd.” Listen below:

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