Han Oh is one accomplished person. He is currently the lead pastor of Hill City Church, is finishing his PhD and also has released a good amount of music. In the last couple of years he released Waiting for the Boy and The Calm and Clear. I have to say upfront that The Calm and Clear is much more overt with religious overtones. A lot of the songs clearly deal with Jesus and it’s sometimes right in the title.
Suffice it to say if you aren’t a Christian there will be a more immediate appeal with Waiting for the Boy. Regardless of religious affinity or lack there of I enjoyed both albums from a musical perspective. Oh has a great voice and I enjoyed the mix of jazz, pop and folk.
The first track from Waiting for the Boy is entitled “Only Love.” The song is immediately likeable because of the brisk, light, yet upbeat vibe. There is a mix of jazz and pop on this song. Oh harmonizes with someone (possibly himself) and sounds great and the clean guitars and piano provide the music.
Despite the title the upbeat, fresh happy vibe continues with “All Alone.” Oh solidifies he has a great voice on this track. Smooth, clear and clean. Oh ditches the happy vibes with “Heart on the Line” and replaces them with reflective, melancholy emotion that bursts through the seams. The topic of the song is ubiquitous and should resonate with anyone who has at least one romantic relationship.
On the next track “Boy Meets Girl” he finds a balance somewhere in the middle of happy and sad emotions. It was the arguable highlight amongst a batch of well-crafted songs. Perhaps the most single worthy song out of the batch was “Take Your Place” although he does mention the big J in this song.
The album The Calm and Clear is a bit more cohesive in a couple of ways. Oh not only keeps things thematically centered around God but also connects the songs in terms of style. The eleven songs mostly revolve around a distinct jazzy pop sound that puts the piano and vocals at the center of the action. There were a number of songs that regardless of my religious convictions I was able to enjoy. Some of the highlights included “Nothing But the Blood,” “Be Still, My Soul” and “Take Your Place.”
As much as I try to separate the person from the music sometimes it isn’t too easy. After listening to these albums you get the feeling Oh is trying to spread love and community through his music. Sure some of the songs are about his connection to Jesus but I think a lot of the themes he sings about are about the human condition, more so on Waiting for the Boy.
I’d say if you are a Christian this is required listening. If you aren’t then you will probably want to start with Waiting for the Boy. If you like that then you can give The Calm and Clear a spin. If the lyrics are a little too religious for you then it’s all good - I’m sure Oh will forgive you.
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