Ayumi Sakai – Precious

July 23, 2012 at 4:34 PM | Posted in Ayumi Sakai | 1 Comment

ALBUM REVIEW
Ayumi Sakai – Precious

1. ex-lover
2. Home Sweet Home
3. re-set (ALBUM VERSION)
4. Kanashimi wo Itoshisa de
5. Yokogao
6. tears
7. Strike One
8. STRONG BODY
9. You May Dream
10. Fun to the night
11. Arigatou ~I miss you~
12. Koizaki
13. KONAYUKI
14. Precious

♦ ♦ ♦

Precious is the debut album by Japanese singer Ayumi Sakai, released on June 16, 2010. The album debuted at #31 on the Oricon Weekly Charts and sold approximately 2,924 copies in its first week.

This album review was requested by ‘ayusecrets’.

ex-lover is the first song on the album, and it has an extremely nice R&B flow. I must say it reminds me of BENI’s music for some reason, perhaps because of the combination of the beats with the soft piano and bells. I like Ayumi’s vocals, sweet,kinda soft but they have enough personality to not sound anything close to bland.

The next song surprised me for having a country sound, but damn I love that fiddle and banjo melody opening Home Sweet Home. Country music is one of my guilty pleasures, so I immediately loved this track. Quite a unique song in the Japanese music industry, because I don’t think other artists try out country music like this. Instead, this track reminds me a lot of Taylor Swift’s ‘Our Song’! Loved this.

re-set (ALBUM VERSION) is more of a reggae song (great, she’s throwing all these different genres at me already ^^), and I’ve heard the original single version was’t like this at all. Should give it a try in the future… About this version, I like the fact that it’s uptempo reggae instead of the slow stuff, and the electric guitar spices the song up a bit as well. Ayumi’s vocals are soothing and she sounds really pretty.

Kanashimi wo Itoshisa de is Ayumi’s debut song, and a ballad. My god, what a ballad. It has the basic pop ballad instruments in the arrangement, like a piano, strings and an acoustic guitar, but there’s a certain amount of impact to it created by musical accents and Ayumi’s own vocals. Her vocals are quiet and soothing, but every now and then she releases a more solid sound and really shines. A worthy debut single.

I love how Yokogao opens with a beautiful combination of the piano and acoustic guitar, the random guitar riffs make this song appear to be a little bit latin. I noticed how soothing Ayumi’s vocals are again, but then the background vocals came in to lend a hand and they give everything just a little more impact. Other than that minor detail, this song is as close to perfection as the previous tracks.

The harmonizations opening tears, the second of only four new tracks on the album, drew my attention from the start. It’s a slow paced track but I can’t really say it’s a ballad. The piano melody leading the track is beautiful, but the percussion sound is the most interesting part of the arrangement, it has a different sound than usual. The track flows nicely, doesn’t have a highlight or anyhing, but it’s soothing. That what makes it so beautiful, and I happen to love it!

Strike One is the next uptempo track and it has a lot more attitude to it thanks to the heavy synths and altered vocals. Ayumi sings in a lower and heavier chest voice than usual, which makes it different too. We’ve had a couple of ballads, country, R&B, and now we have the dance genre, almost a bit like electronica music. This girl can handle everything, apparently, and she does this track with flair as well.

It wouldn’t surprise me if STRONG BODY drew inspiration from Britney Spears tracks like ‘Radar’ and ‘Womanizer’, especially not because this track reminds me of the first, judging by the introduction. The chorus of this track is amazingly catchy, even though all she sings are the title words. Ayumi and twenty4-7 sound pretty good together, perfect voices for a collab. This track is fierce, wow.

You May Dream is a little bit like ‘island vibe gone wrong’, a hybrid of synthpop, funk and a summer song. Still it’s a funny and uplifting track, and it amuses me quite a bit. Ayumi’s monologues in some parts of the song were a little weird, but then again it adds to how funny the song is in comparison to the other tracks.

Fun to the night was the B-side for ex-lover, and while I was expecting a song in the style of STRONG BODY I get bubblegum pop instead. There’s a nice tempo to the track, which makes it rather bouncy and another one of those uplifting tracks on the album. Some conversations again, just like in the previous song, and again I think they’re a little out of place but who cares, the overall track is good.

Arigatou ~I miss you~ was the B-side for KONAYUKI, Ayumi’s winter single, and somehow it doesn’t surprise me this track comes off a winter single. Take ex-lover, add a little winter vibe and you have this song: R&B with some nice synth riffs in the arrangement and the additional winter bells. The background vocals are echoed, which adds an angelic feel. After a while this becomes a better track than I expected at first (and damn, catchy).

I guess we kinda stay in the R&B mood of the album since Koizaki features some of the elements of that genre as well. The arrangement for this ballad-ish song is amazing, and still it’s just some percussion, strings and a piano. In the bridge, an acoustic guitar joins and has its own solo this time instead of the usual electric guitar. Only one small ‘disappontment’ about this track: Ayumi’s one high note in the chorus. Other than that, beautiful track.

KONAYUKI is the first track to actually have that distinguished R&B sound with a typical beat and percussion sound to it, including as less synths on the foreground as possible. I like the piano melody that originates from the introduction and then is woven through the entire song, lovely melody. Just like in the previous track, Ayumi’s vocals are a little higher pitched but she can handle it.

The last track, and at the same time the title track, is Precious, starting off with a rather interesting sound from the piano and guitar. It’s a ballad, just as I expected, but a rather peaceful one. Ayumi’s vocals could’ve been a little better since she’s singing all these higher notes without getting the chance to really belt out her lyrics, like something is holding her back. Too bad this track is so short, it comes of as a little underdeveloped.

If it wasn’t for one of my visitors, who recommended both this singer and this album to me, it wouldn’t have occured to me to actually try out Ayumi Sakai’s music. That would’ve been too bad since I actually love this album and I’ve gained interest in this singer. She should release new material in the future though, since ten out of fourteen tracks can already be found on her singles. Ayumi Sakai makes enjoyable music, her vocals are good enough, she can perform multiple genres (something I’m a total sucker for).. If she’d only develop those vocals a  little more, it would’ve been the perfect album. Now, it comes pretty close!

Favorite tracks: Home Sweet Home | Kanashimi wo Itoshisa de | Yokogao | tears | STRONG BODY | Fun to the night | Arigatou ~I miss you~ | KONAYUKI

OVERALL RATING

4½ stars

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1 Comment »

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  1. Yes, the album is amazing… I’m glad that you liked.


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