ayaka – The beginning

February 2, 2012 at 4:53 PM | Posted in ayaka | 1 Comment

ayaka – The beginning

1. Hajimari no Toki
2. Hello
3. Akai Sora
4. The beginning
6. Sora Yo Onegai
7. Tsunagaru Kokoro
9. Soko Made Aruite Iku yo
10. Egao no Canvas
11. Magic Mind
12. Kimi e
13. Yasashii Ao

♦ ♦ ♦

The beginning is the third album released on February 1, 2012 by Japanese singer ayaka and first under her own independent label, A stAtion. It was released in two versions: a limited CD+DVD edition and a regular CD-Only version. The limited edition will come with a DVD and a photobooklet in a special package. The album debuted at #1 on the Oricon Daily Charts.

I’m so glad ayaka finally makes her comeback, and I have high expectations.Hajimari no Toki is a perfect way to start the album because it’s a beautiful but yet very strong track. It’s not a ballad, but it has soothing verses and pretty piano and strings arragements. In the chorus, ayaka really belts out her lyrics like only she can. She takes on a lovely singing melody too, it showcases her huge vocal range from chest voice right into head voice. Seems like she still has her strength!

Hello slowly gains volume and an electric guitar is heard from the very start. Apparently ayaka decided to add some more powerful songs on her album (I used to know her as the Queen of ballads). I love it when ayaka adopts a lower vocal sound, because it makes her voice sound much deeper and more impressive. I was very impressed by the power in this track, and luckily ayaka blends in with her huge voice.

If you ask me, Akai Sora sounds like a very uplifting song with a cute little bounce to it (thanks to the keyboard). It tones everything down a bit because the previous tracks had quite strong arrangements, and this one just kind of stays in that bouncy relaxed spot. I love the simplicity of this song, it still really appeals to me. I love this^^

The beginning is the first song I encounter that screams ’emotion’. It’s a lovely power ballad with piano, strings and percussion. It sort of gives us the best of both worlds when it comes to ballads. In the verses, ayaka keeps things very simple with just a piano and a soft tone in her voice, and then the chorus takes us to the powerful part again with ayaka hitting her beautiful high notes. The electric guitar solo gave me goosebumps and the bridge even showed ayaka improved her English! A stunning title track.

Another bouncy song is HIKARI with a cute percussion rhythm and a surprising synth melody in the background. In the chorus, some heavy electric guitar riffs come in and it doesn’t really makes sense but it gives the song a sense of power. ayaka’s vocals are dominant in this song, sometimes her belting is a bit out of place but in the end all these elements make the song a unique experience. Another goosebump moment with the solo (and the freaking high notes after the bridge!).

As expected, Sora Yo Onegai is a ballad, and eventually the shortest track on the album. What surprises me is that this ballad is the simplest track on this album with just a piano and ayaka’s vocals. Sometimes we only want simplicity, and ayaka apparently is very good at varying her music. Because of the simple music you tend to concentrate on her voice much more, and then you’ll notice how pretty and deep her voice is.

Tsunagaru Kokoro is so damn catchy, and it may sound cheesy but it reminds me of a nice summer’s day. It’s almost like an acoustic jam session with a guitar, handclaps, a nice percussion rhythm and something like an accordeon(?). It’s just a song that needs doesn’t require explanation, you just wanna get into the groove with it.

THIS IS THE TIME stirs things up a bit with a more heavy sound to it and a powerful arrangement. I love the mysterious melody of the strings, especially when combined with the electric guitar solo in the bridge. The real star in this song is ayaka herself, she shows she has so much power in her strong voice. She either belts out her lyrics or sings really high erall her adlibs are amazing. Another great and strong uptempo song.

Soko Made Aruite Iku yo is a ballad again, and a quite simple one but it shows from the start it has potential to grow. The piano is the central instrument and it plays lovely high notes. The tempo combined with the melody gives a nice soothing song, and it’s the golden combination of piano, strings, acoustic guitar and percussion that makes me like this song even more. One of my favorite ballads on this album, again because it’s not that complex.

It appears ayaka likes to make her non-ballads songs a bit bouncy, and Egao no Canvas is the definition of uplifting as well. I love the ‘Sha la la la la la’ line, it makes the song so much cuter than it already was. The cute lyrics make up most of the total lyrics, but I don’t think it’s a problem because it makes the song so damn uplifting!

Magic Mind doesn’t sound like a ayaka song, it reminds me much more of BENI’s music! The percussion is different, it’s not her usual drum percussion but more of a machine kind. The song is less ‘acoustic’ than the rest of the songs on this album, and it’s completely different too with the use of synths. Still there are some traditional elements too, such as nice high piano notes and strings. It’s the only ‘danceable’ track on this album, but that’s what makes it unique. Damn, ayaka’s super high note near the end of the song just nailed it!

I didn’t expect Kimi e to be uptempo since the title means ‘To You’, but well, it is. The great surprise in this song that really gave me alan vibes was the erhu in the bridge! It sounds great with the overall pop/rock sound, and I didn’t expect it to be that way. Eventually the ‘mistaken ballad’ turned out to be another kickass song with great power, thanks to the electric guitar and percussion.

Yasashii Ao is the last song, and this one is a ballad for real. It’s touching and ofcourse the piano is the central instrument again. The strings build around it wonderfully, and when ayaka is joined by a choir in the second chorus, the real goosebump moments have arrived for me. In my opinion, this song features ayaka’s best vocals on the entire album because of her adlips and frequent use of her head voice. It’s almost like she expanded her vocal range about an octave during her three year hiatus! Another great ballad, and maybe even my absolute favorite!

Three years are a real pain, and it’s exactly how long I’ve waited for something new to be released by ayaka. And damn, what an album! She’s gone indies, and she does it pretty well. I’m so happy for her that her condition from her Graves’ disease has improved over time, she has great talent and she really can’t be missed in the music industry. With The beginning she delivered a great comeback album with the best of musical variety on it. I’m hooked ❤

Favorite songs: Hajimari no Toki | Akai Sora | The beginning | Tsunagaru Kokoro | Sono Made Aruite Iku yo | Egao no Canvas | Yasashii Ao


1 Comment »

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  1. Yep this album was pretty much flawless. Nice review!

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