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Day 48: Sayuri Ishikawa – “Anya no Shinjuudate” (2014)
Genre: Enka / Jazz / Pop
Tracklist: 暗夜の心中立て / 名うての泥棒猫
It happened again, a day without review. This time, I have no real excuse. I wasn’t sick, I just had completely miscalculated the time it would take me to do various course works and essays for university, which is why today’s review is a 2-track single only. Better than two consecutive days of cheating so close to the big 50!
Sayuri Ishikawa’s new single was composed, written and produced by Shiina Ringo, two legends of the Japanese music business coming together for one showstopper of a release. Let’s look at the tracks.
暗夜の心中立て immediately bombards us with brass reminiscent of a 60s big band, but conveniently gives way to Ishikawa’s (Enka-typically) pronounced delivery just seconds later. The flow of the vocals to the melody is absolutely spectacular, adding a sense of fragile, traditional power to an otherwise rather classical(in the sense of being in a classic style, rather than being classical music), glamorous composition. The song successfully marries typical Enka chord progression and jazzy aesthetics fit for a Bond movie, creating a rich, timeless experience in the process. Ringo’s footprint is impossible to miss, the song is very easy to imagine in her voice, but I do believe it works better with Ishikawa’s full, force of nature vocal style than it could ever with Ringo’s nasal, thin one.
Essentially of the same style, but pronouncing the clash of genres a bit more, 名うての泥棒猫 gleefully presents a rough collide between Enka, Pop, Rock, Blues and Jazz. I honestly like this song even more than the first, all the same praise can be applied here, but with a melody that is even more infecting, even more appealing and a structural progression that uses dynamic instrumentation to its full effect. Truly one of the greatest tracks I have heard this year so far and an early candidate for song of the year.
I adore Sayuri Ishikawa. So many ageing singers rely heavily on either scandal, trying to stay young or releasing incredibly safe music – she does none of those things. Embracing graceful ageing and producing music of such quality that it’s hard not to be utterly impressed, Sayuri delivers one of the most engaging, gorgeous singles I have heard in a long time. The two songs work together perfectly, sharing a timeless(yet reminiscent of the 60s in particular) sense of beauty and drama, the cover art and music video are gorgeous and stylistically sound, the whole thing just ties together like an intricate mechanical construct. Every aspect of this single is flawless on an artistic, technical and conceptual level. Even Ringo’s background vocals are a fantastic choice as they counter Ishikawa’s timbre perfectly and add texture. If you check out one single from the first half of 2014, let it be this one.