Monday, February 6, 2012

Ayaka The Beginning review

Finally after a three and a half year hiatus, ayaka is back to the j-pop scene. Her third original album, The beginning was released through her independent record label Astation. This album brings out a different side of ayaka. All of the tracks except Hello are written (both music and lyrics) by ayaka alone. We get to see a more personal side of her on this album. The lyrical themes revolve around love. One thing about this album anyone would notice right away is that unlike Sing to the Sky or First Message, there are very few guitar pop tracks. Instead, most of the album consists of slow ballads, with piano accompaniment. I don't know, but I am a ballad lover, so I have no hesitation saying that even though this album has no single tracks, it is her best work to date.

Just listening to the album is so magical it makes you feel at ease. The first week sales are much lower than her previous albums at roughly 100,000. Probably because this is an independent release, ayaka didn't have too many resources to promote it because this album deserves higher sales.

1. Hajimari no toki- A beautiful ballad with a sad undertone. The chorus is a bit weak but overall, the sorrowful mood of the song is carried well by the piano and strings. Ayaka's voice seems a bit airy at first, but it is probably for a soft effect. A track you will want to keep listening to.


2. Hello- This is probably one of the few upbeat pop tracks on the album. Right from the start, ayaka belts out the notes with the power and confidence she is known for. A rock-pop track. She perfomed this live on some music show to promote the album.


3. Akai sora- This one's a lot like Mahotsukai no shiwaza from her previous album. It starts of slowly with jazzy piano. Ayaka sound cute and playful. It's an easy listening track that somehow gives you a feeling of satisfaction.


4. The beginning- Another ballad. Stars off with light piano and ayaka singing softly. She conveys emotions wonderfully in this song. There is a sequence of aahs in the song which are extremely catchy and make it sound gospel-ish. The chorus has ayaka doing what she does best- belting out with power. A good power ballad.


5. HIKARI-A rock ballad with guitars and all. Nothing extraordinary. Probably one of the weaker tracks on the album.


6. Sora yo onegai- A very soft and emotional ballad. It reminds me of konya hoshi mo dakarete... from her Sing to the Sky album. They sound quite similar. This song can really calm anyone's soul.


7. Tsunagaru kokoro- A cheerful track which stars with a lot of clapping. There are no amazing notes here, but it is sugary and bittersweet. A nice change.


8. THIS IS THE TIME- A mysterious sounding track, much darker than its predecessors on the album. Ayaka's voice is powerful at every note. It sounds a bit rockish. Ayaka's voice is a perfect fit for this kind of song.


9. Soko Made Aruite Yuku yo- It is a piano ballad, like many of the tracks on this album. It sounds like the kind of stuff that would play in the background of a drama when the protagonists are reminescing about their past. It has a feeling of longing. I love how ayaka doesn't try to show off her vocal potential but creates a mood with the softness and gentleness of her voice.


10. Egao no canvas- The thing about the album is that each track is carrying foward the theme of the album which is easy listening (I am guessing). They are all very nice and relaxing but there is hardly any difference in their arrangement or lyrical content, so I can't really write much about them. This is yet another pleasent track, though bland in comparison to others on this album.


11. Magic Mind- A standard ayaka pop track.

12. Kimi e- Sounds more like something Kobukuro would do, rather than ayaka. It has a country-ish feel.

13. Yasashii Ao- Ayaka ends th album with a ballad. The chrorus is powerful and magnificent. It gradually builds up from a breathy and weak verse to an epic chorus. A great way to end this amazing album.


I think each and every track would make a great addition to any drama. They seem to be written for being played behind a touching drama scene.

This album doesn't have the versatility of First Message or Sing to the Sky, but it is good at what it does. I have always been wanting ayaka to make a ballad-heavy album and looks like she did just that.

Definitely worth listening to on days you're down.

Ballads are beautiful
Ayaka's vocals seem to have improved
There is thematic consistency in the album
No filler tracks. They are all worth listening to.

Horrible cover (umbrella? What was she thinking?)
All tracks have identical arrangements

Overall rating-4.5/5

NOTE- images taken from various sources. do not belong to me.

1 comment:

  1. Mostly agreed!!!
    Though I prefer HIKARI to The Beginning because somehow the lyrics and tone flow better (in my opinion).
    My favourite tracks so far are はじまりのとき、アカいソラ、空よお願い、やさしい蒼
    In general, this is a very consistent album which ayaka can show some of her best qualities. But I miss songs like ブルーデイス and 今夜も星に抱かれて and her live version of I LOVE YOU <-- the best cover of the 80's hit so far
    On the other hand, TB is unlikely to have a very big sales number. Might increase if tie to some TV drama. (so far I'm only aware of やさしい蒼's tie to her husband's CM)
    Hated all the pictures included in the album/promotion. I know she has an amazing voice but, seriously, she may start working on her image a little bit more. It's still... the Japanese market...