alan – my life

August 20, 2010 at 11:35 AM | Posted in alan | Leave a comment

ALBUM REVIEW
alan – my life

1. reflection ~overture~
2. Swear
3. One
4. Mitsumeteitai
5. Namida (Smooth Jam Mix)
6. Lost Child
7. Butterflies
8. Essence of me
9. Call my name
10. Shiroi Tsubasa
11. Nobody knows but me
12. BALLAD ~Namonaki Koi no Uta~
13. Kuon no Kawa
14. my life
♦ ♦ ♦

my life is the second Japanese album by Tibetan singer alan. It was released on November 25,2009 in Japan and on November 27, 2009 in Taiwan and Hong Kong, under the name Wo De Ren Shen (我的人生). The album was released in two different versions: a CD-only version and a CD+DVD version. The album’s titular song, “my life”, was used as the theme song for the PSP game God Eater. The album peaked at #16 on the weekly Oricon charts, charting for seven weeks.

Maybe I’ve waited to long to finally review this album, even on my previous music blog. We’ll see in a while. I was hoping alan would pick up where she left off on her debut album Voice of EARTH, since reflection ~overture~ starts off so calm with a harp and a piano. It really makes me think of a flower garden, but then a dance, almost techno-like, beat comes in with some synths and the hole introduction goes 180.

Swear is more similar to what alan previously did, it’s more laid-back than the introduction, because it seems to be a midtempo oriental song of some kind. It goes a little more poppy when the song develops, but alan’s vocals still remind me of that beautiful Voice of EARTH era. The beat is hopping, and now the synths are replaced by real strings and a bass guitar. Even some bells are featured now and then, and the whole song is likeable to me.

When the melody of One drops in, I have a feeling I may like this song as well. This ballad track is led by a beautiful piano and a slow and soft beat with some strings in the chorus. alan’s vocals sound just a little different sometimes, like she’s suddenly a few years younger, but maybe that was her idea of fitting them into the song. In the bridge, I hear a electric guitar solo for the first time ever in alan’s discography (although I personally may have missed something), and I was right: love this song!

Again, a piano opens the next track, which is Mitsumeteitai. This is even slower paced than One, and includes only a acoustic piano, so that it almost feels like a piano version of a song that includes more instruments like One. The bridge really stuns me, since alan is singing all high notes and I even hear a little sort of Tibetan wail here. Even though this song may be all serene and stuff, it’s actually very pretty and simple.

Now I’m curious about Namida (Smooth Jam Mix), of which the introduction remind me a bit of her first self composed song Together because of the disonant drums. Nothing really stands out for me until the second chorus, when her voice wakes me up a bit. I don’t like the percussion in this song, it’s too dominant. The strings and piano are a pro though, as are alan’s vocals again. Still, this track remains more boring than what I’ve heard before.

Lost Child then features some sort of dance-like feeling through it’s bouncy percussion and a few pretty strings here and there. After the chorus, a sort of rapping voice can be heard in the background for a few seconds, and I wonder if that’s a featured artist who’s missing on the track list. This track does nothing for me, although there are some things I DO like, such as those deep string riffs and a electric guitar playing in more of a Jazz sound.

The introduction to Butterflies really DOES remind me of butterflies as a harp plays some beautiful tones. That melody is later being taken over by a more oriental instrument, and for the first time alan kind of returns to her comfort zone again. I don’t like the backing vocals in this song, but the music is a huge plus. alan reaches some big high notes in here again, but most of the time I’m just anticipating. The chorus stands out most of all, and so do the bridge and introduction.

For the first time on this album, a song can really be called a dance song. What was alan thinking with Essence of me? It’s so not her. This track is totally made of uptempo percussion, bass, heavy synths and distortion effects, even in her voice, which has definitly been edited by a vocoder. This sounds more like a remix than an original song, can I please skip this?

Then she’s back with a same kind of dance song, Call my name. Finally some normal vocals without the addition of a stupid vocoder (yes, in this case, it’s stupid), and this song makes a little more sense to me, although the beats and synths still don’t appeal to me. Apart from that, I must say alan is a multi-functional singer and blends in with different styles she may not be used to, so this style isn’t that bad at all. It’s just not her. Love the bass, though.

Back to the beautiful ballads with Shiroi Tsubasa, a song with a beautiful acoustic guitar, bass and fingersnaps. I still think her voice suits these kind of songs best, since they immediately get a sort of energy boost through her beautiful voice. The chorus can truly make a person cry, and this is such a big IMPROVEMENT after those dance tracks. The guitar really adds something pretty here, a relaxing element. The most beautiful song on this album!

Nobody knows but me is another ballad of the same kind as Mitsumeteitai, but here the piano is accompanied by disonant drums. This track is kinda pretty, but I just don’t get the fact that an altered voice is speaking right over the chorus! Her very first real Tibetan wail on this album and an erhu make things all right again, and she totally nailed this song, it takes me right back to those Voice of EARTH days…

I’m glad we got right back on track with oriental alan ballads again, and BALLAD ~Namonaki Koi no Uta~ throws in a Tibetan wail even before the real song starts! This is more of a winter ballad with piano, soft percussion, bells, echo effects and strings. Reminds me of an Ayumi Hamasaki song of the same name (BALLAD), and I loooved that song.

Wait… isn’t Kuon no Kawa just Chi Bi: Da Jiang Dong Qu from her Chinese album Xin De Dong Fang, but then in a lower key?? I instantly recognized the bombastic opening to the track, which lead into a dramatic ballad that features some of the same elements as BALLAD ~Namonaki Koi no Uta~, such as the same instruments (strings, bells, piano and sometimes some echo effects and soft percussion). Don’t get me wrong, these tracks definitly aren’t the same at all! This track is more dramatic because of some gong effect, and it’s a little more foreboding (Yes! Another wail and erhu!)

The fifth ballad in a row, and one of the prettiest of all: the title track my life, that really represents all the good elements of this album. This powerballad features some more dominant percussion to give it that extra drama, yet the piano makes it all laid-back again. I was surprised about alan’s vocals in this track, because she has a lot of high notes, especially in the bridge (unbelieveable, will the real Mariah Carey please stand up?).

There were some points where I was expecting the worst, but all those beautiful ballads made me forget the terrible elements instantly! Only reflection ~overture~, Namida (Smooth Jam Mix), Lost Child, Essence of me and Call my name are dance tracks that make me think ‘omg, now I know what they meant with AyuNation’. I really expected those tracks to overrule this album and to make me come to the conclusion alan is a new Ayumi Hamasaki! Luckily, all the other tracks proved the opposite, and especially the last five tracks. Those are moments I’ll never get back, and I have come to love both alan as her work. She does a great job, but I hope she’ll be back to her wailing after this, because stepping out of her trusted comfort zone isn’t really her thing.

Favorite tracks: One | Mitsumeteitai | Shiroi Tsubasa |BALLAD ~Namonaki Koi no Uta~ | my life

OVERALL RATING

4 stars

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