Album Premiere: Jae Jin’s Beautiful ‘Letters and Drinks’ Balances Love & Suffering

Jae Jin © Crystal Kim
Jae Jin’s ‘Letters and Drinks’ celebrates life through a heartfelt, soulful exploration of that which makes it beautiful: Love, cheer, pain, and loss.
For fans of Sam Smith, Jason Mraz, Train, fun.

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Jae Jin’s sophomore album is a breathtaking attempt to capture the raw beauty in the world: For life is truly beautiful, but that doesn’t mean it’s fair, simple, or easy. Just as we bask in the light because we know darkness, and embrace love because we know lovelessness, we indulge in life itself because we understand its transcience. Bursting with deep thoughts and vivid emotion, Jae Jin’s Letters and Drinks celebrates life through a heartfelt and soulful exploration of that which makes it so beautiful: Love and cheer, pain and loss, and beyond.

Letters & Drinks - Jae Jin

Letters and Drinks – Jae Jin

Atwood Magazine is proud to be premiering Jae Jin’s sophomore album Letters and Drinks, independently out this Friday, June 29, 2018! A Los Angeles transplant by way of Baltimore, Jae Jin is an independent singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist with a bright spark in his eyes and a warm glow in his heart – both of which are felt in full on Letters and Drinks. Echoing the likes of fun. and Jason Mraz, and with a voice like Sam Smith, Jin appeals to the deepest part of our souls – that tender, vulnerable side we too often build walls around. His songs truly come from the heart, whether he’s dealing with tragedy as on “Six Feet Above,” honoring family as on “Father’s Land,” or trying to leave the world a better place – as in album opener “Dance with Me.”

The highly anticipated follow-up to Jin’s 2015 debut KairosLetters and Drinks carries a little magic throughout its twelve stunning tracks. There may not always be an overarching deep message, but we’re nevertheless left feeling the immense weight of Jae Jin’s joie de vivre – a spirited mentality that has known as much love and joy as it has suffering and pain.

I’ve been talking to the stars about you
I hope that penny in the well would come true
I’ve been chasing rainbows
but they were passing on through
It’s 11:11 and I’m wishing for you
– “11:11” – Jae Jin


“Each song on ‘Letters and Drinks‘ centers on the universal concepts of love and suffering but in a raw, unique, and authentic way,” Jin tells Atwood Magazine. “With love, it’s not always rainbows and butterflies or a cliché Hollywood, romantic comedy. It’s a lot of work and requires a willingness to commit to each other daily and attempt to be selfless. With suffering, there is an honesty and authenticity in the struggle. Sometimes, when going through pain, nothing helps but time and even then, you aren’t quite the same.”

He continues, “I took the opportunity to be transparent and share my own struggles with depression and suicide. I wanted to express acknowledgement that not everything is perfect. There is more to my journey than meets the eye, and I wanted to express that there was much beauty to be found even in the struggle and the pain. In terms of musicality, the album is diverse in nature, due to the variety of musical influences I have. You’ll find everything from Pop to Rock to R&B to folk to even country and blues.”

Jae Jin © David Lai

Jae Jin © David Lai

There are times the apple falls
beneath a different tree

Though I came from another world
You made a home for me
I never know the words to say
but I hope that you’ll agree

That one day I’ll be
the kind of man you didn’t have to be
– “Father’s Land” – Jae Jin

While it’s safe to be categorized as some form of pop, Jae Jin works hard to create a collection that is wholly unique and entirely his own, amassing an array of brass and stringed instruments and some talented friends to help bring to life a majestic vision of life and its radiance. Letters and Drinks is the kind of record that will make you cry, and make you smile; it has moments of joy and laughter, alongside moments of profound intimacy and reflection. Just like the raw beauty it strives to depict, Letters and Drinks is a powerful balance: One whose energy and emotion will stay with us long after the music’s over.

Experience the full record via our exclusive stream, and peek inside Jae Jin’s Letters and Drinks with Atwood Magazine as the artist provides his personal take on the music and lyrics of his sophomore album!

:: stream/purchase Letters & Drinks here ::
Listen: “Letters and Drinks” – Jae Jin

:: Inside Letters and Drinks ::

Letters & Drinks - Jae Jin

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Dance with Me

This upbeat love song is centered around one of my life mantras. Whether platonically or romantically, I feel that it is important to strive to leave someone you meet in a better place than you found them. Fun fact: The working title for this song was “Better Than I Found.” It was a fun songwriting exercise to incorporate visual imagery into the lyrics.

Gonna Be Honest

As I’ve traveled the world over the past few years, a common topic of conversation with people tends to be wondering what could have been with someone in their past and if they had made a different decision or if the timing was different. I wanted to write an honest song that came from my past perspectives and experiences. I think one trick in life is not to dwell on something incessantly. I’m a firm believer that if it’s meant to happen, it’ll happen. And if it doesn’t, well…

Atmosphere

By intentionally melding rich layers of sound, this track refocuses on the hope found in the multi-dimensional element of love. Vulnerability creates a fertile soil in which deeper relationships can take root. This authentic environment is vital to loving someone but cultivating this climate requires us to embrace our fear. It’s okay to acknowledge that we are imperfect, so long as we trust the process that results from being vulnerable. By committing to love, we come to find that we don’t love someone in spite of their imperfections, but because of them. The track is comprised of hundreds of layers of live instrumentation and voices including a full orchestra, instruments, claps, snaps, and vocal harmonies.

Wild Child

On the surface, this playful and vivid assortment of sounds presents a breeze of casualness. However, nestled underneath is a collection of deeper philosophical thoughts on existence and our unending quest for belonging. The song animates the question, “is what you’re running after what you already have?”

11:11

Growing up, my friends and I would make a wish on the rare occasions that we caught the clock at 11:11. There is an element of love that is driven by the same optimism as when making a wish. This warm, resonating ballad invites you to think of — maybe even wish for— someone you love. There is a creative lyric video on YouTube for this track and I think you’ll appreciate how the lyrics are presented visually.

Six Feet Above

Right in the middle of the album is a song where I wrestle with a very personal and heavy topic. I lost a dear friend who died by suicide last year, and what followed was a very tough season of my life that I quietly went through. I carefully crafted a song bringing forth honest thoughts and raw emotions. In struggling with such a topic, I was overcome with many different emotions ranging from sadness and despair to anger, hopelessness, and regret. I know that the topic of depression and suicide is an important one to bring light to, and it is my hope that this song can bring encouragement.

Whiskey Song

Simple acoustic guitar and a simple raw vocal makes up this track. After covering a popular Chris Stapleton song called Tennessee Whiskey a few months ago, I decided that I would include this song that I wrote a while back. I’ve always loved country music for its honest songwriting, and simple melodies. Fun Fact: I wrote this entire song while enjoying a dram of my favorite whiskey.

Father’s Land

I wrote this personal folk song for my stepfather, a grass farmer, who entered my life during my teen years and whom I now consider my real father. I have always wanted to pay homage to a family member through my songwriting. Here is a more in-depth story about the song.

Heart Smiles

With this particular song, I wanted to combine contemporary elements with a throwback, Motown sound. Hoping that this song brings you heart smiles.

Hello Love

I was so grateful to be able to incorporate such talented live musicians on my album. Every orchestral musician and live brass brought my songs to a whole other level. This song especially highlighted the brass players on my album.

Book in the Cloud

With this song, I wanted to touch upon the disconnect that exists even in a “more connected world.” Much like an old Peter, Paul, & Mary folk song, I wanted to focus the musicality around tight harmonies building up to a harmonious bridge of sound that transported your head above clouds. The title takes a shot at Facebook (and online presence in general) while presenting the fickle ways in which we cultivate community and relationships.

One Last Light

The final track on this album somberly addresses my own struggles with depression and suicide. In being transparent, this song initially was an actual “farewell letter” I had written one night on the brink of giving up. And though I made it through that particular night, I ended up returning to the letter time and time again on many tear-filled occasions. I imagine that many others out there have felt similar emotions. Midway through the song, there is a transition in the tone and feel of the song. There is a hopefulness that can be found in the darkness when you focus on the things you believed in light. I felt that this song was a fitting way to end this album.

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:: stream/purchase Letters & Drinks here ::

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📸 © Crystal Kim

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Mitch is the Editor-in-Chief of Atwood Magazine and a 2014 graduate from Tufts University, where he pursued his passions of music and psychology. He currently works at Universal Music Group in New York City. In his off hours, Mitch may be found songwriting, wandering about one of New York's many neighborhoods, or writing an article on your next favorite artist for Atwood. Mitch's words of wisdom to fellow musicians and music lovers are thus: Keep your eyes open and never stop exploring. No matter where you go, what you do or who you are with, you can always learn something new and inspire something amazing. Say hi here: mitch[at]atwoodmagazine[dot]com