ayaka – Sing to the Sky

April 30, 2011 at 1:12 PM | Posted in ayaka | Leave a comment

ALBUM REVIEW
ayaka – Sing to the Sky

1. POWER OF MUSIC
2. Ai wo Utaou (愛を歌おう)
3. Sky
4. Jewelry day
5. Good Night Baby (グンナイベイビー)
6. For today
7. Why
8. Gold Star (ゴールドスター)
9. Mahoutsukai no Shiwaza (魔法使いのしわざ)
10. Te wo Tsunagou (手をつなごう)
11. Ai mo Uso mo Shinjitsu (愛も嘘も真実)
12. CLAP & LOVE
13. Kimi ga Iru Kara (君がいるから)
14. Okaeri (おかえり)
15. Kon’ya mo Hoshi ni Dakarete… (今夜も星に抱かれて・・・)
16. WINDING ROAD (ayaka × Kobukuro)

♦ ♦ ♦

Sing to the Sky is the second studio album by Japanese singer ayaka, and it was released on June 25, 2008. The album reached #2 on the Oricon Weekly Charts and was the #15 best-selling album of 2008. Sing to the Sky has been certified Double Platinum by RIAJ for shipment of 500,000 copies, and sold 614,872 copies in total.

POWER OF MUSIC immediately shows how soulful ayaka is as a singer, she starts things of with a very funky song that comes close to gospel at some points. There are some great brass instruments in this song, and the crowd yelling in the background make things even more fun. I think ayaka was already good when she made her debut album, but she even improved a little more and gave a stunning vocal performance in this track. I have listened to this album multiple times the past three years and this was a favorite from the start.

Ai wo Utaou (愛を歌おう) was featured on a double A-side single with Te wo Tsunagou, and it was the upbeat track on that single. I remember wanting to give it more than 5 stars because the single was so good, mostly because of <em>Te wo Tsunagou </em>but this track is also very good, even though it shows more signs of simplicity. Here ayaka draws more attention to the funkyness in her voice, and the music is an interesting mix of soft classical synths and hard percussion and electric guitars overlapping them. Very interesting track.

This album delivers some strong new tracks, and Sky is really one of them. The percussion rhythm is very different than what ayaka used to display in her music and I love how the arrangement combines that good old piano and guitar, the chorus also features a nice bass melody. ayaka’s vocals are really top notch in this track, in the chorus she tends to belt out her lyrics and never fails to impress me by doing so. In fact, the chorus is my very favorite part of the entire song, it’s very strong and dominant. Only one little (irrelevant) minus: she sings ‘fry to the sky‘ instead of the title words, LOL xD

I have a special connection with Jewelry Day, because it’s so beautiful and emotional and it reminds me of so much. This is such a sad song, just look up the lyrics and you will see. I love how ayaka lays so much emotion in her vocals, she brings the song in a very convincing way. The music is very simple, yet it captures me, with soft tribal percussion, a prominant guitar melody and soft soothing strings, the latter especially during the ending of this song. This has to be one of ayaka’s best and most powerful ballads yet.

Good Night Baby (グンナイベイビー) is a very cute and nice song with a little bounce to the melody, and it’s also a very short song being just over three minutes in length. There are actually only about two different parts in the song; the bouncy verses and a more poppy chorus. There is however one different part, a little bridge in there somewhere, in which ayaka really belts out the lyrics, but for the rest it’s just a short and sweet song.

The next song was a digital single that I hadn’t reviewed before, For today, and it’s one of the more agressive songs on this entire album. That’s both musically and vocally, the music is very there with hard percussion and electric guitars, while ayaka displays some strong and solid vocals again in the chorus. I love her adlibbing in layered vocals right after the chorus, and the agressive guitar solo in the bridge is pretty. I like the ending of this song very much.

I always remember the chorus of Why, with ayaka’s high note, but it’s also a lovely song about freedom. This was on a double A-side single with CLAP & LOVE and I preferred Why over that one. This song is more touching because it’s a pretty ballad, and there was another great solo by an electric guitar in this song. ayaka is usually very strong at doing ballads and she proves it once again. The chorus was the most beautiful part again.

Gold Star (ゴールドスター) is actually about today’s society and a hero who goes by the name of Gold Star! Fun fact, haha. It’s also a little more on the agressive side with a lot of dominant instruments that suit ayaka’s vocals in the best way possible. Concidering her vocals, this sounds more like a darker song on the album, and it could’ve been a little more interesting to my taste. But still it’s a very good song indeed.

Mahoutsukai no Shiwaza (魔法使いのしわざ) is the first song to slow down the album a little more, and it features mostly a piano. ayaka flows along with the nice piano melody very well, making this a very interesting and cute track. I had to listen to it a couple of times before it actually stood out to me, but now I really like this song. And it ends waaaay to soon, where did the song go??

The best song on the entire album has to be Te wo Tsunagou (手をつなごう) , and I can’t even say why I love this song so much. Everything about it just seems to be right, from the melody in the song to the use of a lovely acoustic guitar and ayaka’s emotional and touching vocals. The song starts off very soft and sweet, but then it become stronger by the minute with a very good electric guitar solo. ayaka’s vocals are best during the last chorus with a very high note. Can I give this song 10 stars? xD

Ai mo Uso mo Shinjitsu (愛も嘘も真実) sounds to me like a very mysterious song, and it’s also a bit jazzy with elements of blues. It’s a darker song, but it still appeals to me quite a bit. ayaka singing in a lower register always seems to sound good whatever happens, and no matter in what register she sings, she always manages to belt out some lyrics, also in this song. It’s an interesting track, and due to its sound it dinstincts itsself from the rest of the songs on this album.

CLAP & LOVE is one of the few ayaka songs to use a vocoder in the arrangement and it’s a rather agressive one when placed right after the previous two/three tracks. ayaka is accompanied by handclaps, an electric guitar and sometimes even a choir, and a nice bassline is in there as well. Even though this is a nice song, it’s kinda forgettable because there seems to be no pinnacle to the song, the chorus could’ve been a little more bombastic than it was now. But ayaka gets a little extra point for the great vocal performance she gave here.

Mix some strong pop/rock with classic strings and you get Kimi ga Iru Kara (君がいるから), a lighter song of the kind. The mix is rather interesting because you don’t hear it pretty much, and even though it’s a lighter song there are still some booming aspects in it that are sure to make you go like wow, such as a grand solo in this solo and sometimes very agressive vocals by ayaka. The song might be a bit repetitive at some points, but I don’t give any notice to that fact, it’s just a nice song.

One of ayaka’s most catchy singles of this era was Okaeri (おかえり), and I hold a personal record for listening to this song 13 times in two days! I love how she used bagpipes in this song, very unusual and extremely infectuous and they are the reason I fell in love with this song and became quite addicted to it. It’s a warm and sweet song, and I also love ayaka’s vocals in it very much. The way she transitions from low to high in her voice is incredible, and this is also one of the best songs on the album.

I should have noticed Kon’ya mo Hoshi ni Dakarete… (今夜も星に抱かれて・・・) before, because it’s a pretty ballad with a lovely melody and great vocals by ayaka. This is also another emotional ballad, and ayaka is the queen of those songs. Damn, how ashamed am I for noticing this song now and not earlier, I love this so much. ayaka hits some pretty high notes in this song, giving me goosebumps all over, and being led mostly by just a piano, I must say it is very very beautiful.

The last track, a bonus track is the lovely WINDING ROAD (ayaka × Kobukuro), starting off with a lovely acapella part by the three singers. The rest of the song is very funky and just a little midtempo, and the three of them make such a great group (ayaka, come back from hiatus and join Kobukuro!). I was surprised the two guys from Kobukuro had such beautiful singing voices, and they were great for this song. The bridge is the only thing I’m on the fence with, the adlibbing was a little too much, but the falsetto note by one of the guys from Kobukuro was great! Another great thing is that they released another collaboration, coming up soon on this blog! My God, how I love this collaboration, the acapella parts remain the best parts.

I adore ayaka, and she seems to improve every time she releases new work. This album was better than her debut album, but only slightly. ayaka developed her own unique sound, and I love her for that. She can make every song something special, and maybe if you listen to all the songs in a row they tend to drag a little after a while, but then again every track individually was a masterpiece. I was happy some of ayaka’s best songs ever were on this album, they made the entire thing very strong and quite addictive. I stopped counting at listening to this album 5 times in a row, that’s how much I loved it!

Favorite tracks: POWER OF MUSIC | Sky |  Jewelry day | Why | Te wo Tsunagou (手をつなごう) |Okaeri (おかえり ) |  Kon’ya mo Hoshi ni Dakarete… (今夜も星に抱かれて・・・) | WINDING ROAD (ayaka × Kobukuro)

OVERALL RATING

5 stars

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