Following worldwide success from his latest single, “Any Other Way,” Eric Nam returns with his highly anticipated sophomore album, There and Back Again. The album consists of seven tracks, two pre-released singles, “I Don’t Know You Anymore” and “Any Other Way,” as well as five new tracks that touch on a variety of topics. Ranging from love to post-breakup introspection, Eric Nam shows fans a new side of his art full of authenticity and vulnerability.
The album tells a story of the events that took place over the past year. Spending the majority of his musical career within the K-Pop industry, which requires a more polished and structured approach, he takes this new era as a chance to utilize the new freedom and display his inner emotions. Eric Nam fearlessly discusses his inner monologue and moments of struggle. In an interview with Consequence Sound he stated, “I constantly don’t know what’s happening,” discussing the pandemic, “I know we all kinda feel that way, but just adjusting to what it means to be an independent artist in 2022, given that I’ve never done it this way before, is a very wild journey.”
Speaking on his first full independent project, Eric Nam proclaimed last year on Twitter that this next chapter of music marks “a new era.” Proving validity in his statement, the two pre-released singles, “I Don’t Know You Anymore” and “Any Other Way” collectively gained over 10 million streams on Spotify, showcasing the depth of his talent.
The album begins with the soft ballad, “Lost On Me.” Standing as one of the two title tracks, the song implements a light, cool bass and drums to create a fluid and laid back atmosphere. Eric Nam incorporates his signature, gentle vocals to reflect and hold on to bittersweet memories from a relationship lost. Singing, “Always regret it, the way I let you down/ I finally get it ’cause you taught me how/(To love someone you have to learn to love yourself)” Eric Nam details the potential his significant other sees in him and the let down that occurs when he ultimately falls short. The use of an upbeat melody emphasizes the message by taking the sad concept of a breakup and turning into a positive, explaining the lessons learned. The mature and fresh sounds act perfectly to introduce the album, solidifying his new beginning.
“I Don’t Know You Anymore” offers a brighter rhythm resembling sounds used and loved by fans in his previous work. Showcasing his vocals and songwriting abilities, the use of heavy guitar amplifies the emotion when contemplating and recalling a relationship gone awry. The lyrics “You can’t burn a bridge/ And then act like it’s not a big deal (big deal, yeah-yeah)/ It’s hard to find out the person you love wasn’t real (wasn’t real)” explains the intense turmoil felt when realizing your trust lied in the hands of someone putting up a facade.
Illustrating the feeling of endless possibility and emotional rebirth when beginning a new relationship, “Any Other Way,” delivers romantic vocal harmonies and an acoustic melody. Describing a love that changed him, he sings “I’ve always been cynical/ But you came in like a miracle/ ‘Cause you made me feel again.” The track perfectly describes the concept of experiencing new love and dormant emotions after a stretch of lonesomeness.
Following the vibrant track, the album returns with “Wildfire,” a slower piece describing the longing for a love that too quickly slipped through his fingers. Expressing “Colored glass like fiction in my eyes/ But here I am all alone in the smoke tonight/ My cinder heart doesn’t feel right” he goes on to explain the metaphor of colored glass to represent his false view of a relationship. Although all seemed to be going well, at the end of the day he remained left with only his thoughts and emotions. Highlighting Eric Nam’s impressive vocal abilities, the song uses a gentle melody layered with a highly emotional tone to amplify the hurt and heartache being experienced.
Up next, “What If,” personifies the relatable and dreaded overthinking that occurs after a misstep, whether it be in a relationship or with oneself. The repetition used throughout the song magnifies the desperation with, “What if you’re the only one that I ever needed?/What if I had stopped you when you said you were leaving, no.” The track’s slow introduction blends into a fast, upbeat chorus, resembling an emotional spiral g when thinking about the different actions or things that could have been said to save a situation from going south.
“Admit” offers raw lyrics and a reflective, gentle melody to reveal the hidden desire and need for someone. With “Tried my best to make you disappear/ But my best ain’t doing it for me/ It still feels like you’re living here” he describes that despite getting rid of material belongings, this significant other has engraved and made themselves a part of his surroundings, therefore everywhere he goes reminds him of them. Eric Nam’s honeyed vocals offer a warm feeling that combats the sorrow felt when realizing needs may never be met.
Rounding out the album, “One Way Lover” provides a light melody and tender vocals, returning back to the unresolved thoughts and open ended questions referenced previously in the album. The phrase “one way lover” throughout the track embodies the idea of someone that refuses to do things in a way other than their own. He sings of wanting the relationship to work both ways and with compromise, but it falls short when realizing this desire will never be fulfilled.
There and Back Again beautifully and thoughtfully experiences Eric Nam’s emotional and complex experiences over the past year. Through the diverse discography, demonstrating both slow and serious as well as upbeat and fun tones, he showcases the new era of his art consisting of an array of styles and messages. A year of introspection, the album marks a new beginning for both the year and his career.
Stream “There and Back Again” on all streaming platforms and be sure to catch him on his 2022 world tour!