Thursday, June 28, 2012

Jpop review- Akina Nakamori's Enka

Akina is a gem that shines wherever it is. This time, Akina is doing an enks cover album filled with songs that fans voted on her website. The album was critically successful and received awards. It is filled with enka standards arranged differently to bring out Akina's vocals. I am not reviewing the instrumental tracks.

 1) Amagigoe- This comes after an instrumental track. Amagigoe, popularised by Sayuri Ishikawa stands for 'Crossing mountain Amagi'. It is a sad enka song of fleeting love and mixed emotions. Akina did a good job with her laid back, airy vocals though I felt shoe couldn't bring power to the title word like Sayuri Ishikawa does. Nevertheless, a good track choice and performance.

2) Mugon Zaka (Silent hill)- I heard this song first by Akina Nakamori and it completely mesmerised me. The arrangement includes everything from japanese shamisen to Indian tabla. Akina's vocals are low and filled with emotion- a contrast with Kaori Kozai. Akina brought her artistry to the song and did it justice. 4.5/5

3) Hisame (Sleety Rain) - Hisame is a typical enka song. Its lyrics mostly talk about the pain of a woman whose love has left her while she drinks to drown her sorrows. Hisame is a rather typical enka song but has a charm that many others lack. Akina did well on the song due to lack of high pitched notes.

 4) Michizure (Life Partner)- Is the cover of a popular song of the same name by Chinese songstress Teresa Teng. It is reminiscent of the old times and has metaphorical lyrics. The song is arranged well. Michizure is less intense and more relaxing than many songs on this album. It also has more cheerful lyrics compared to melancholic songs like Kanashii sake and Hisame.

5)Ettou Tsubame (Like a wintering swallow)- Akina stuggles with the high notes in the chorus a little bit but Akina's low voice sounds better on this song than Mori Masako's high voice. The chorus sounds a little disconnected and alltogether too high to fit in the song but it was a good track choice.

6)Kanashii sake( Sad sake)- This was one song I felt Akina didn't do justice to. Or maybe, the expectations were too high because the legendary Hibari Misora completely nailed this song. I didn't even notice this song on this album wheras, when I heard Hibari Misora's live, I was completely shaken. Her emotions are so well done and vivid. A good song but Akina doesn't quite deliver.
7)Funauta (Boat Song)- This is a song like Amagigoe which stresses the title word in the end of the chorus. Akina managed this song well. It was originally sung by Yashiro Aki. 4/5 8)Ishikari banka (Elegy of Ishikari)- Akina does well vocally on this one. Another typical enka song with added power and a pleading chorus. This song stands out on the second half of the album.

9)Ya setsu no watashi- I remember this song least because I heard it first time on this album and it pretty much went with the flow. I won't rate this.

10)Yozakura Oshichi (Night cherry blossoms, love of Oschichi)- A fuyumi Sakamoto song who recently scored a hit with Asia no kaizoku/ mata kimi ni koishiteru. I can't help but count the 'sakura's on the song. There are so many of them. This song stands out, perhaps because of the repitition. A nice and powerful end to the album.

Overall, a pretty good album considering Akina's deteriorating vocal ability and sales. She found something unique to do and the novelty of the idea carried this album through. Though vocals were not at her best, Akina manages a good show on this album which she owes primarily to the wonderful song choices on this album. Even the cover is tastefully made to suit a genre like Enka. I have begin to love enka and anyone starting to know this genre should start with this album.

Overall- 4.2/5




Weak vocals in some songs


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