25. Akina (2017.11.08)

01. Merry Christmas -yuki no shizuku-

A well-produced ballad. While I may have criticized the previous album for it's lack of actual orchestra in it's ballads, this one puts it right on front street. Given the time of year that this album was released, it's only natural that it is a Christmas ballad. It has very little to do with Christmas outside of the lyrics however--just some very slight sleigh bells in the background. For that, I applaud it...I hate overbearing Christmas music.

02. Amar es creer

This one is a little tough to describe. I really dig the singing, though. It's kind of a ballad, but it does take off just a little bit. It's unique, but not in a weird way. Really, though...this is an excellent showcase of vocal talent. The flow is just so tight.

03. Amaoto

This song also has a great vocal flow, but is a much more intense song. It's a bit of a ballad, but has an edge of pop to it. Again, this one is very well done.

04. Maboroshi

Another ballad, but this one is more on the light rock side. The haunting piano gives it a teeny tiny bit of darkness to it. I know I made this point early on, but the production is fantastic on this album. It's all real music coming from real instruments. This one just has that nostalgic edge...kinda... Slow Motion like...

05. La.La.Bye

A nice mix of the classic ballad and 2017. It may not have a name like the next track, but it is closer to the Latin side. There is some more great singing as well. Nakamori has seemingly gotten into tongue-twisters and complex vocal streams.

06. Amore

Not to dissimilar from the previous track. This song is another ballad that moves along nicely and has a slight Latin sound to it. It isn't as memorable as the previous track, but I think I like this one better. The bass is really good.

07. Hirari -SAKURA- (Akina Version)

Oddly enough this is the B-Side track from the single for FIXER -WHILE THE WOMEN ARE SLEEPING- that was released way back in the beginning of 2016. It's a bit different from the single version, however, in that this is a ballad and the single version is a full-on pop song.

This is a grand sounding ballad with some killer strings and bass to it. Given that this song originally lived on a single to what is a really big song, it makes total sense that this song is hair out of place on this album. It's very good, though. Those strings especially... This one demands a good set of headphones to listen to. It's worth it for the little details.

08. fate ~Unmei no hito~

This is more or less the final track of the album. It's a softer ballad this time, and one that kinda revisits the Christmas theme. Actually, this one is probably more Christmasy than the actual song called Merry Christmas. Nakamori's breathy vocals are absolutely on it. Again, she is in better shape now than she was in the entire 2000s decade.

09. Merry Christmas -yuki no shizuku- (Orgel Version)

An instrumental Orgel/Music Box version of the lead track from this album. I was half expecting it to be just a small bit of the song, but this is actually over three minutes long.

OVERALL: While ballads aren't really my thing, this is the type of album I looooove to put on the background when I'm working on something like a toy review or just reading articles online. The last time Nakamori released an album of strictly vocals was 2003's I hope so. I likely had the same thoughts about that album as well. Though, I do recall that one having some more variety to the types of ballads.

The only real grief I can give this album is how short it is. Nine tracks, only eight of which are vocal. Now...this can kinda be forgiven as a second album of covers called Cage was released on the same day...but you had to pay full album prices for both seemingly brief albums. A tinier issue I have with this album is the lack of unique content on the limited edition version. While the limited edition came with a 2018 calendar, I prefer the cover of the standard version so I went with that. It's just a little more cheerful.

I'm happy to report that this album did really well upon release. It peaked at number nine while Cage simultaneously peaked at number eight. That's a pretty sweet achievement. While Cage isn't an official album...I suppose I should check in and see what all the commotion is about...

NEXT: Cage


Limited Edition Cover

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