Ailee came to give it to you!
The biggest complaint about Ailee is that she seemed to be stagnant as a performer. Every comeback was starting to sound the same; a balance of throwback-styled tracks and vocally-showy ballads. While there were always hints that she was capable of more, she never seemed interested in showing it in her releases.
A New Empire feels like a new beginning for someone who may have been pigeonholed by both fans and the industry as a one-note performer. She still brings the vocals to the party; that’s her claim to fame and we would never want her to shy away from that. But what she does do this time around is vary up the production and style of her vocals enough to bring in new fans and make those who may have tuned out turn around and give her a second chance.
Just like with the second single, Home, she merges modern and classic elements in a way that makes her shine and gives the listener full emotion and energy. Even she sounds more engaged than she has on recent releases. The production for each track is grounded in R&B, but there are elements of pop, country, gospel, and EDM that show up to keep things interesting and allow her to show some range. The lyrics seem to be a little better this time around as well, with fewer non sequiturs between the English and Korean lines.
The best part of this set is that everything works together. We’ve upped our assessment of If You as it sounds better in context, providing a slight respite from the more (for lack of a better word) sassy songs around it and providing fans of her previous work something to ground themselves. We don’t even mind I Need You because it shows acknowledging a strength instead of resting on her laurels.
Our favorite tracks are Home and Live Or Die.