By: Kya Brodgon | 7, March, 2023
What do you do when you’ve released one of the best albums of 2022? Well, if you’re indie pop singer/songwriter Eric Nam the answer is simple, you re-release the album just over a year later with new remixes that bring a fresh, new take to your iconic songs. In There And Back Again - Reimagined, not only do the songs sound different, but the order of the songs on the album is different than the original - thus bringing a new perspective on the story Eric Nam is telling as you listen. My biggest takeaway after I listened to this album was how much more the lyrics seemed to stick out to me this time around. I’m not sure if it’s because I’m already familiar with the words to the songs, or because of the softer, more orchestral vibe that is supporting the lyrics this time around - but either way I love the way it made me feel.
I think the biggest sound change between the original album and the reimagined album is the fan favorite “Wildfire.” In the original version, “Wildfire” is an upbeat, dreamy melody that builds into the vocaloid-esque style chorus - almost like the way a wildfire builds in real life.
In the reimagined version, “Wildfire” is softer and somehow even sadder, even though the lyrics are the same. Hearing “Had a love but we lost it to the flame / Burning fast made it hard to tame / Hands up praying for the rain / Thought we'd last but all that's left is pain” backed by an orchestral theme, and Eric’s velvety vocals make the lyrics more heart-breaking than they already are. Another major difference between these versions is the ending. In the original, the song comes to a more abrupt ending accompanied by music and background vocals, and in the reimagined version, Eric’s revision to the lines “Had a love but we lost it to the flames/ Oh good things always take time” gently lulled listeners to the end.
One song I wasn’t expecting to change that much is “One Way Lover.” In the original version, this song is already heart-wrenching and emotional - but somehow Eric Nam was able to make that feeling even more pronounced in the new version.
Despite the sad lyrics the original version seems to have a subtle note of hope and acceptance in it - like a song you would listen to when you’re finally starting to get over whoever hurt you. The reimagined version, feels much more like a song you would listen to when you are dealing with the freshness of being hurt by someone you cared deeply about and trying to come to terms with your feelings, rather than undertones of hope, there are subtle hints of anger and confusion throughout the song. The reimagined version feels like a song you’d listen to when dealing with initial feelings of being hurt and coming to terms with your emotions; rather than undertones of hope, there are subtle hints of anger and confusion throughout the song. The backing instrumental feels like something you would listen to as you're looking out a window while it rains, contemplating your life and envisioning the future. The iconic chorus of “How you living? / Bet it's not so different / Don't you ever wanna miss me at all? / You're a one way lover / Now it makes me wonder / Why I'd ever wanna miss you at all” only hits harder with this version, and it has me upset with an ex that doesn’t exist. This is a great example of how just a difference in the melody can change the way lyrics sound.
The most similar-sounding song from the original to the reimagined, in my opinion, is “What If.” When you go through the type of breakup and hurt that Eric is singing about, it’s easy to get lost in the what-ifs, and this song is exactly about that. “What If” has been one of my favorites off of There And Back Again since its initial release, and this reimagined album only solidified how incredible of a song it is. While the original has a steely guitar twang that gets in your head immediately, the reimagined version has an acoustic version of that riff, sounding similar to one you’d hear at the beginning of a movie. In the chorus, Eric asks, “What if you're the only one that I ever needed? / What if I had stopped you when you said you were leaving, no / Won't let you go / What if this is something that I'll never get over?” I am in love with the way Eric’s vocals sound, and the new instrumental backing the lyrics brings such freshness to the song as a whole.
It’s interesting to note that in the original album versus this reimagined one, the order of the songs is different. I don’t know if this was intentional or not, but the fact that the songs are in a different order helps with the new vibes and fresh take on the story the songs are telling in the album. Opening with “What If” this time around instead of “Lost On Me” like the original starts off the journey with questions and confusion rather than the acceptance and hints of gratefulness sung about in “Lost On Me.” This album also made me emotional because it brought up all the memories I have from seeing Eric Nam in concert for the first time last year. It even made me rewatch some concert videos and binge-listen to his discography.
In the past, I have been about fifty-fifty on whether or not I enjoy remixes and new versions as much as the original - but this album easily has a 100% success rate in my book. Most of that comes from hearing the little differences in Eric’s flourishes and vocal runs, where he holds some words and notes longer or sings differently than in the original, throughout the reimagined album. This shows how much effort he put into reimagining these songs, and he didn’t just slap a new backing track on a pre-recorded audio take and export it. That level of passion and care is always easy to hear when you listen to music, and it’s one of my favorite things about Eric Nam as an artist.