ayaka – Rainbow Road

May 5, 2015 at 4:18 PM | Posted in ayaka | 3 Comments

ayaka – Rainbow Road

1. number one
2. Have fun!!
3. Arigatou no Wa
4. No end
5. Tsuyoku Omou
6. beautiful
7. Gensoukyoku
8. Lose Control
9. Through the ages
10. Zutto Taisetsu na Kimochi
11. Chiisa na Ashiato
12. Birthday Song
13. Nijiiro

♦ ♦ ♦

Rainbow Road is the fourth studio album by Japanese singer ayaka and the second album released under her own independent label A stAtion on April 15, 2015. The album peaked at #2 on the Oricon Charts and has sold 43,847 copies to date.

Wow, it’s been over three years since I last reviewed an ayaka album! number one is the cheerful song that opens the album and it’s not weird that it sounds so uplifting, since it was the theme for the Winter Olympics! It has a grand feel and I really like the chanting near the end of the chorus, I would love to hear ayaka perform this live with an orchestra.

If Have fun!! isn’t already a fun title, the music definitely has it live up to its name. This song is bouncy, positive and extremely catchy (especially the chorus) since it’s not a complex song. Maybe it gets a little repetitive after a while, but then again it makes it so easy to remember this song.

When it comes to the tempo, Arigatou no Wa lets the album take a little step back to a more relaxed state in this midtempo piece. The inspiration for this song was actually ayaka’s mother and, as the title suggests, it’s about being thankful. The melodies in this song are beautiful and ayaka’s vocals sound amazing, definitely worth a listen (or more).

No end is one special song on this album since 1) it’s sung in both English and Japanese (and her English has definitely improved) and 2) this is a style ayaka hasn’t explored that many times before. It’s funky with its fast beats and brassy elements, and although her friend Tom Collekiyo made the music, it reminded me a little of the vibe of ‘CLAP & LOVE’. Nice!

Tsuyoku Omou stands out because of the variation in the musical arrangement and ayaka’s breathtaking vocals and adlibbing, which already start in the first part of the song. I can’t imagine this being the theme for a news program, but still, it is. The electric guitar in the background also contributed to that unique feeling since I haven’t heard in the other songs until now.

I remember being stunned by beautiful when it came out (over two years ago!), since it starts off so calm with the piano music before evolving into a more powerful piece. It reminded me of gospel music back then and it actually still does, and I love the addition of the choir very much. I think this is one of ayaka’s best pieces of music, and her vocals are top notch as well. Sometimes I just can’t stand how talented this woman is.

Gensoukyoku was the B-side for the Nijiiro single last Summer and I was impressed when it was released. Maybe when placed after the powerful beautiful its impact is a little less than it should be, since this is a more serene and calm ballad. Still, ayaka pulls this song up from being forgettable in this tracklisting by delivering an amazing vocal performance and I am again reminded of why this song is so pretty in the first place.

I’m not surprised Tom Collekiyo wrote the music for Lose Control as well, since it’s also a ‘CLAP & LOVE’ type of song (although it only sounds alike in the overall approach and vibe). I think this is one of ayaka’s newest achievement when it comes to the evolution of her style as an artist since it’s so different from most of her songs, but it’s not the most exciting one for me.

Through the ages was written by ayaka for an OST (‘Black Butler’) and sung by Gabrielle Aplin, but this version is basically a self-cover. There is so much emotion coming from both the music (with the strings and piano) and ayaka’s vocal performance that it could easily make you cry if you’re that type of person. I’d like to give a standing O’ for this masterpiece, but that would be weird from where I’m sitting now 😀

A wedding song! Zutto Taisetsu na Kimochi was written for her manager’s wedding (not her own, since she and her husband apparently never had one??) and the ambience is instantly clear from the opening with the wedding bells. There’s hope coming from ayaka’s voice that I like very much. Also, there aren’t many songs out there like this so that also counts as a unique achievement. Loved the violin part!

A marching band rhythm opens Chiisa na Ashiato, very original! This was on the same single as beautiful and now it instantly reminds me of my trip to Ireland two weeks ago because of its cheerful music with flutes and fiddles. A strange thing perhaps, but it makes the song even more memorable for me. It’s one of the most unique songs ayaka has ever turned out and I can really recommend it!

So… AYAKA IS PREGNANT?! 😀  It is said that Birthday Song is written for her baby’s future birthdays and it’s a cute song with a piano and a tiny little xylophone, real lullaby music if you ask me. The children’s voices that are added later are very cute and the entire song eventually has that playroom sound, so that makes it a bit more fun while it’s in fact not that special.

Closing the album, finally Nijiiro is here. Probably one of my absolute favorites on this album, it displays a quircky spring sound that I really like. I would definitely describe this as a lighthearted and uplifting song with some very nice and original brass instruments in the arrangement, which all makes it so much fun to listen to. Not the perfect song for closing the album, but it’s perfect on its own.

I didn’t expect liking the album this much! ayaka has always been one of my favorite J-pop artists and I really missed her when she didn’t release any new material for so long. Now that she’s back she has given us a real treat, and I think it will keep most of us satisfied for quite some time since I believe there’s a baby on the way, so motherhood will probably be her priority soon enough. Every song on this album is a piece of art in its own way and there’s always this one element that can make a song memorable and even better than you would initially think. So, arigatou ayaka for this wonderful album and I think we all wish you the best on being a mommy!

Favorite tracks: number one | Have fun!! | Arigatou no Wa | beautiful | Gensoukyoku | Through the ages | Zutto Taisetsu na Kimochi | Chiisa na Ashiato | Nijiiro

5 stars

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