It's dark outside, the roads illuminated only by the dim glow of street lamps rushing by as you speed along to your next destination. And while the emptiness of the landscape might tempt tendrils of loneliness to creep in, the moment is somehow still warm and assuring — as if knowing that you have somewhere to go is enough to keep you from getting too lost.
Korean rock group Day6's vocalist and lead guitarist Jae paints this picture in his first solo project, "LA Trains," under the moniker eaJ. Much like the literal flip of his name, this solo endeavor by the Los Angeles native is a stark contrast to the usual rollicking, vibrant pop-punk and rock that have been the band's signature for the better part of five years.
The song, which spans just short of a minute and a half, begins in what sounds like a station, with the muffled voice of a conductor coming in over a loudspeaker. In flows a single acoustic guitar over the faint sound of wheels on a track, cradling the singer's dulcet tenor as he waxes poetic about a feeling he doesn't want to let go of. The melody continues to flow along even when the beat drops in, but it — as well as a few haunting sighs that weave in and out — adds an ambient, fuzzy texture that makes the song feel even more expansive.
Artists who've worked in bands often struggle with finding their own sound when they decide to work on solo projects. If anything is clear, however, is that eaJ knows who he is. Not only because of the song's singular melodic qualities, though. These 80 seconds feel like a mood personified — a snapshot of a moment in time.
"I’m stuck in this moment/ Cause it shines beautiful/ And so do these streetlights/ And so do you."
If this release is a taste of what's to come from the contemplative musician, we'll gladly strap in and go along for the ride.